Chelsea will look to secure an early advantage in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League when they face Porto on Wednesday at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
The Blues have massively improved since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival in January. The German manager has managed to turn things around, with Chelsea’s elimination of Atletico Madrid in the previous round standing out.
However, a humiliating 5-2 defeat to West Bromwich Albion last Saturday exposed the cracks in the team. These are cracks that Porto will certainly exploit when they lock horns with the Blues.
After their 3-0 aggregate win against Atletico, Tuchel quipped that no team would like to face Chelsea in the quarter-finals.
The truth, though, is that Porto will be relishing this encounter more than ever following Chelsea’s dire performance at the weekend.
Difficult week for the Blues
A week can change a lot in football and Chelsea have learned that the hard way. The Blues hadn’t lost in almost three months before suffering a 5-2 at the hands of West Brom on Saturday.
That defeat, their first in the Tuchel era, has proved more damaging than expected. It has seen Chelsea drop from the top four in the Premier League and more worrying is the fact that it comes just before a crucial Champions League game against Porto.
It has been a difficult week for the Blues and the training ground bust-up between Antonio Rudiger and Kepa Arrizabalaga also hasn’t helped matters.
But now is the time to stick together. Porto will be no pushovers and have shown that they can take on the big boys.
Having already eliminated Juventus from the competition, the Portuguese side cannot be underestimated, especially when Chelsea are still trying to recover from the weekend’s heavy loss.
A game that can make or unmake Chelsea’s season
The events of last week remain a harsh reality for Chelsea. A single defeat in the Premier League has already put their hopes of finishing in the top four in serious jeopardy.
Another defeat against Porto could see the Blues heading towards a crisis, as this is a game that can make or unmake Chelsea’s season.
A win, however, would represent a swift recovery from the humiliating defeat to West Brom and could spur them onto yet another consistent run.
“The quarter-finals of the Champions League means that you play four halves, and four times 45 minutes minimum of high-level football,” Tuchel said, as quoted by Sports Illustrated
“So we must be fully focused, absolutely self-aware of our strengths, we did already prepare some offensive movements from us, where we want to go back and which we want to refind after our game on Saturday and after the big break we want to refind our rhythm.
“The challenge is to be totally focused on our strengths, to narrow the focus down on one 45 minutes, then another 45 minutes, and then we will see what result we get and then we will see how we deal with it in the second leg.”
Chelsea are outsiders in the Premier League but they should be able to get past Porto. Failure to do so could unmake all the gains chalked up under Tuchel.
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