Chelsea visit Romania tonight to face Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League.
The home side are regarded as one of the weakest sides in the competition, but Jose Mourinho’s second stint in charge of the Blues has not exactly got off to a great start.
In the Blues last six games they have won two, lost two and drew two. That is not exactly the record of a team that is expected to challenge for the Premier League title and Champions League trophy.
One of those defeats came in the Champions League, a 2-1 home defeat to Swiss champions Basel on match day one. The loss came as a major shock to most observers, but it is what can happen when a team under-estimates a so-called inferior team.
With the amount of quality in the Chelsea team they should have no problems defeating tonight’s opponents. However Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard has revealed that his team will not under-estimate their Romanian opponents.
The England midfielder told Sky Sports: “You can never underestimate any team in the Champions League,”
“In the first game we didn’t perform well, we lost. That’s what happens. (But) we’ve got five games now to go, five games to put that right. That’s a lot.
“We don’t expect an easy game. We’re lucky to have played Steaua Bucharest last season so we’re fully aware of the good team they are. Last year we started slowly and we lost the game in the first half.
“Considering the position we’re in now – we need a result – we have to start the game at a top level.”
As we all know it is early in the season, but people are already asking if Jose Mourinho returning to the club was right the move for the club. These questions were raised because of the team’s inconsistent start to the season.
Questions were also asked about why Spanish playmaker Juan Mata has just been a peripheral figure this season. Chelsea’s Player of the Year has been told that he will start tonight’s game, after showing the right attitude in training and recent matches, according to Mourinho.
Mata has never seemed to show a lack of professionalism, but the Spaniard has recently revealed that he believes that Mourinho will improve him as player.
Chelsea boss Mourinho stormed out of his press conference ahead of the trip to Bucharest, because of questions about why Kevin De Bruyne was not in the squad. It appeared that the Portuguese boss was fed-up of people questioning his team methods and team selections.
It was slightly ironic that on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice for Everton last night, as the Toffees defeated Newcastle 3-2 to move up to fourth place in the Premier League and a point above the Blues.
The young striker’s performance will lead to more questions as to why Mourinho allowed the Belgium international to leave on-loan. The Blues forwards are not exactly setting the world on-fire at the moment and the youngster would give Mourinho an extra attacking option.
The Blues have had to depend on goals coming from other areas of the pitch, as their strikers Fernando Torres, Samuel Eto’o and Demba Ba have struggled to make an impact when given the chance this season.
Despite the forwards not being in sparkling form Chelsea should win these sorts of games with ease, but their inconsistent form has led to doubts over the team. I fully expect Chelsea to do a professional job in Romania and come home with maximum points.
I have to admit that I have questioned the decision of Jose Mourinho to leave Juan Mata out of the team. However, one thing you cannot question is the Portuguese’s record of collecting silverware wherever he has been, including in his first spell at Stamford Bridge.
The Portuguese boss has won the Champions League twice. He is regarded as one of the greats of modern day football management. It would take a brave man to write off Mourinho and his team this season, even if the Blues have not made the best start to their campaign. The bookmakers are certainly not writing Chelsea off, with the Blues still fourth favourites to win the competition at 14/1.
Will Chelsea claim victory at Steaua Bucharest tonight?