Tuesday, 22 November 2011
UCL: Bayer Leverkusen v Chelsea preview
Chelsea travel to the BayArena tomorrow to face Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League. Currently top of the group table, with 8 points, Chelsea will want a draw at the very least to secure qualification to the knock-out stages of the competition. The German side are breathing down the Blues' neck, with 6 points and a clear objective to keep Valencia at bay and finish second but could yet gazump Chelsea. Neither team are enjoying great times; both have only one two of their last five games in their respective home leagues. Despite recent performances, Chelsea remain unbeaten in Europe this term and have played with an unrivalled attacking style. Fernando Torres is likely to start and if he fires on all cylinders, Leverkusen could be in for a tough night.
Andre Schurrle was sidelined with influenza on Friday, but is expected to return to action for the Chelsea match. Karim Bellarabi and Hanno Balitsch are also anticipated to be left out of the matchday squad due to thigh problems. Long-term casualties Renato Augusto, Michael Ortega, Tranquillo Barnetta, and Rene Adler are all ruled out of the game due to knee injuries.
Didier Drogba returned to action for Chelsea on Sunday, although Torres is most the most likely candidate to start up front. Both will be available for selection, as will Alex and John Obi Mikel, who have shaken off back problems. The big absentee continues to be Michael Essien, who has been out since the preseason due to knee ligament damage.
Facts and stats
In the first leg against Leverkusen, Chelsea attempted 12 shots on target: no other sides have managed more in a single CL match this season
André Villas-Boas’ side have attempted the most total shots (72) and the most shots on target (40) in this CL campaign.
Chelsea have won only two of their last seven Champions League games, losing two
The Blues are without a win in their last three CL group stage games played on the road (two draws and one defeat)
On both of their two previous away games of this CL campaign, Chelsea have drawn after leading 1-0 at Valencia and Genk.
Chelsea’s nine goals in this CL have been scored by eight different players (Fernando Torres has two)
Bayer Leverkusen have won just two of their 16 previous meetings against English sides in European competitions, both at home (4-2 vs Liverpool in the 2001/02 CL and 3-2 vs Blackburn in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup)
Leverkusen have won five of their last seven home games in European competitions, losing one.
Stefan Kießling has conceded the most fouls so far in this Champions League season (17)