Chelsea v Real Betis

One mediocre home win over Anderlecht and one hard fought away draw to Liverpool means we’re currently second to the Red Scousers on goal difference in Group G.

Jose Mourinho believes Real Betis will be our most attack-minded opponent in the Champions League to date, and sees them as more of a threat than Liverpool.

“They are a difficult team,” he said in the pre-match press conference. “They have a lot of quality in attack. Coming to Stamford Bridge just to defend is difficult. So I believe they will play their normal game and we have to be very aware.

“I thought when the draw for the group was made that our group was very, very dangerous — not because of Liverpool, but because of Betis. [They have] a lot of good, experienced players, playing in a league like the Spanish league — they are dangerous.

“They already have three points. You imagine that Betis will beat Anderlecht at home. That gives them six points. If they win one more match against Chelsea or Liverpool it gives them nine points — and a big chance to qualify.”

The Spaniards aren’t in great form at the moment and have yet to register an away win this season in their domestic league; they currently lie twelfth in La Liga having struggled to score (five goals in seven games) — which is surprising considering they have one of Europe’s best attacking wingers in Joaquin (a player we have contemplated signing on more than one occasion) and a Brazilian striker who scored twenty-six goals last season, Ricardo Oliviera.

Betis will be hoping that Joaquin has fully recovered from the throat infection which kept him out of Sunday’s league match, the first the Spanish international has missed in seventy-two games.

Our only major injury doubt is Damien Duff who underwent keyhole surgery on a minor knee injury he picked up last week whilst playing for the Republic of Ireland. Shaun Wright-Phillips is likely to continue in Duff’s absense, although Arjen Robben is pushing for a recall after being rested due to a slight hamstring injury, also picked up on international duty, against Bolton at the weekend.

Paulo Ferreira is almost certain to regain his place at right-back after recovering from injury, meaning William Gallas is likely to switch to his preferred central defensive role to partner John Terry at the expense of Ricardo Carvalho. If Asier Del Horno continues at left-back he will go head-to-head with Joaquin, his international team-mate.

It’s difficult to see Mourinho dropping Didier Drogba given the Ivorian’s brilliant recent form.

Prediction: Real Betis are a good attacking team and are sure to be looking for a win. However, their recent form isn’t great: they lost to Liverpool at home in their opening Group G fixture and have struggled in La Liga, scoring just five goals in seven games. If our defence plays to its usual high standard (the first forty-five minutes against Bolton apart) and constrains the attacking prowess of Joaquin and Oliviera, then we shouldn’t have many problems. We’ve played six matches at home against Spanish clubs and have yet to lose (won five and drawn one). 3-1.

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Chelsea 4 – 0 Real Betis · Update

Another slow start, another crushing victory. Altogether now: “Boring, boring Chelsea…”

See Drogba, Lampard, Joe Cole and Crespo’s goals here (downloadable zip files).

Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Sporting Life; Official Chelsea FC Website; The Times; The Independent; The Guardian; Daily Telegraph.

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