Five Reasons Why Chelsea Will Win 2014 Champions League
Five Reasons Why Chelsea Will Win 2014 Champions League
The knockout stages of the 2014 Champions League will begin over the next few weeks, and Chelsea will take on Turkish side Galatasaray in the round of 16. The Blues won Group E by taking 12 of an available 18 points from Schalke 04, FC Basel and Steaua Bucuresti while recording a +9 goal differential.
Chelsea won the Champions League during the 2011-12 season, and they are hoping to reclaim their place atop Europe’s elite. However, the vast majority of the big clubs in Europe made it into the final 16, meaning the road to the finals will be extremely difficult.
Despite the challenges, Chelsea has the squad to achieve their goals. They are in strong form, having won 8 of their last 9 games. Their defensive work has been outstanding, and they continue to be able to create enough offense in Jose Mourinho’s disciplined system to get wins. Mourinho’s tactical abilities have been one of the biggest reason Chelsea has enjoyed so much success recently.
Galatasaray presents a good challenge for Chelsea, but they were fortunate to avoid being drawn against a side like Manchester City or Arsenal. Galatasaray feature Chelsea legend Didier Drogba and Netherlands international Wesley Sneijder in their squad, but Chelsea should have the defensive capabilities to quiet their attack.
When the ball is in their possession, Chelsea have a talented group of midfielders that can create opportunities or finish them on their own. The striker position remains a concern for Chelsea, but Fernando Torres just returned to training and Samuel Eto’o has done a solid job this season. All in all, the pieces are in place for Chelsea to have Champions League success, and these are the top five reasons Chelsea will win the Champions League.
5. The Champions League is a Priority for Chelsea
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich loves the Champions League, and Jose Mourinho agrees on its importance. Many clubs view their domestic league as more important than the Champions League, and if push comes to shove they will structure their squad rotations to reflect that.
Chelsea does not share that sentiment, and they are fighting an uphill battle in the Premier League. Those two factors could push Mourinho to ensure that he always has his best side rested and ready for Champions League fixtures.
4. Petr Cech's Performance in Goal
Petr Cech is not necessarily the first name that comes to mind when discussing the world’s top goalkeepers, but he is having an outstanding season. Chelsea rank third in the Premier League in clean sheets, and they tied for the fewest goals allowed in the group stage of the Champions League.
You can’t win a competition like the Champions League without world class goalkeeping, and Cech provides Chelsea with exactly that. He is a huge reason the Blues have been so difficult to score on this season, and that should continue for the remainder of the year.
3. A Very Deep and Dangerous Attacking Midfield
Chelsea may have some concerns about their strikers, but they make up for it with an exceptionally talented and deep attacking midfield. Eden Hazard is viewed by many as the best young player in the world, and Oscar, Willian, Andre Schurrle and Ramires give Mourinho an embarrassment of riches to work with.
Having such a talented group of midfielders allows Mourinho to play matchups and exploit weaknesses, and it means Chelsea loses nothing when they turn their bench. A world class striker is and always will be the most difficult scoring threat to stop, but a complete group of attacking midfielders is a very dangerous alternative.
2. Outstanding Defense
Chelsea’s defense has been magnificent all season, conceding a Premier League best 20 goals. John Terry has been revitalized as one of the best center backs in the Premier League, and Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta round out a very strong back four.
The January addition of Nemanja Matic has proven to be vital as well. Matic holds a traditional No. 6 role in front of the back four, allowing more creative players like Frank Lampard and David Luiz to push forward. This also ensures that Chelsea always has five sturdy defenders protecting Cech. Chelsea’s ability to defend and control games will give them a big advantage as the Champions League progresses.
1. Jose Mourinho's Tactical Prowress
Mourinho refers to himself as the “Special One”, but he has earned that title. Monday’s win over Manchester City was an example of Mourinho’s tactical genius, as he completely outclassed Manuel Pelligrini and designed a scheme to shut down one of the most high powered attacks in Europe.
There are very, very few managers that can match wits with Mourinho, and his presence on Chelsea’s bench gives them an advantage before the game even starts. You don’t have to like Mourinho (and many don’t), but there is no denying that his ability to design schemes and make adjustments will always put Chelsea in the best position to succeed.
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