Chelsea will open their Champions League campaign when they host Valencia at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
After spending one year outside the tournament, Chelsea are back in the Champions League. They spent last season contesting the Europa League. The Blues won the trophy when they beat Arsenal 4-1 in the final in Baku. Clinching the title was enough to secure a path to the Champions League, and Chelsea finished third in the Premier League as well. However, the 2012 winners will enter the group stage with reserved ambitions this time.
Chelsea are going through a rough patch at the moment courtesy of the transfer ban imposed upon them. They were not able to register any new players in the summer transfer window. Frank Lampard is in his debut season at the club after Maurizio Sarri left for Juventus after a single season at Stamford Bridge. Despite all his achievements as a player, Lampard is relatively inexperienced as a manager. He has just one season of professional management in his locker which he got at Derby County last season.Embed from Getty Images
In their first four Premier League games, Chelsea have managed to win just one so far. Their squad is not at the level it has been in recent years. The departure of Eden Hazard to Real Madrid is a major reason why. However, Lampard has some promising youngsters at his disposal. The onus will be upon Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, and Mason Mount to keep Chelsea competitive in the Champions League.
Chelsea’s situation is a bit shaky, but Valencia are in a state of turmoil. Three games into the new season, they sacked coach Marcelino. Valencia were steadily improving under his guidance, but disagreements with the owner Peter Lim were the major factor for the decision. Lim wanted to interfere with the transfers, and that strained the dynamic with Marcelino and sporting director Mateu Alemany. Under Marcelino, Valencia finished fourth last season and won the Copa del Rey by beating Barcelona in the final. But their current season has taken a wrong turn.Embed from Getty Images
Valencia are in 10th place in La Liga currently after picking up four points from their first three games. As they turn their attention to Europe, Valencia will hope to better last season’s display in the competition. They failed to go past the group stage as Manchester United pipped them to the knockout rounds by a close margin of two points in Group H.
These two sides have met six times in the Champions League since 2007. Chelsea have had the upper hand, and the English team is unbeaten in that time. They have won three and drawn three. The last encounter between the two came in 2011 when Chelsea recorded a 3-0 win.
Chelsea vs Valencia Prediction
Neither side is in the position they want to be, but Chelsea should have enough to get the three points in London. Valencia will be shell shocked after Marcelino’s sacking, and Chelsea should take advantage. The total goals should be over 2.5 in the game, as neither side has looked great defensively so far. But Chelsea should score more to get the win.