Chelsea Reach the Knockout Stage of Champions League in 3-0 Win over Valencia

December 7, 2011 - by mosesbet · Filed Under Sports News Comments Off on Chelsea Reach the Knockout Stage of Champions League in 3-0 Win over Valencia 

Chelsea manager Andres Villas-Boas silenced critics after a straightforward 3-0 victory against Valencia at Stamford Bridge.

Two goals from 33 year old Didier Drogba (3rd and 76th minute) and another from Ramires in the 23rd minute made a difficult night look easy as Chelsea qualified from their group.

A home draw between Genk and Bayern Leverkusen also allowed Chelsea to finish top of Group E, which means they avoid difficult first-round knockout draws against Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan.

It was a big night for Villas-Boas, who left out important players such as Frank Lampard, Alex and Torres from the starting line-up, instead favouring young-blooded players such as Romeu, Ramires, Mereiles, Mata and even David Luiz in defence.

I think the match and result will signal a turning point in both Chelsea’s and Villas-Boas’ career at Stamford Bridge.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, last night was a straight forward win against the 3rd place team in La Liga to qualify for the knock-out stages (which Chelsea have done for the last 8 years).  However, Villas-Boas’ choice to play young players, and drop out big name stars in his most important match this season, shows the intended changes that are likely to occur over the next year.

Lampard’s absence from the starting line-up in the Champions League, in addition to his 66th minute substitution against Newcastle last weekend, shows that his future as a first-team player is virtually gone.  At 33 years old, Lampard will need replacing, as will Drogba (33) who barely lasted 45 minutes in the game, Terry (31) and Anelka (32).

At 27, Fernando Torres is still technically at the peak of his career, however his form has been terrible over the last 2 years, he seems to be omitted from all of the big games (only scoring 3 goals in 25 matches since his £50 million arrival at Chelsea on year ago), and I don’t know how long it will be before he’s put on the transfer list.

Villas-Boas’ win against Valencia and sealing a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, will probably allow him to spend lavishly in the Christmas transfer window.  I would expect at least 2-3 new signings during this period (possibly £50 million total) in the shape of a new striker, attacking midfielder and winger.  He also needs to find a way to get rid of ageing players such as Drogba and Anelka who’re both unlikely the get the 2-year contract extensions that they’re both hoping for.

Overall, Chelsea still have a lot of work to be done before they can move forward and have a realistic chance of getting past the quarter-finals.  Chelsea FC are still a good team with a strong defence, and they will probably finish 3rd in the Premier League, but they are still a long shot away from beating the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Madrid and AC Milan in the Champions League.

Chelsea’s main problems right now are that they lack of proper no.10 striker on form who can score 20+ goals per season (Sturridge doesn’t fit this role), a combative midfielder like De Jonge, Ballack or Mark Van Bommel, and pace, width and ability down the wings (e.g. Lennon or Walcott).