Chelsea face tough task at Nou Camp
Halfway through the group stage, some teams can already start planning their move into the next round of the Champions League.
Chelsea are one of five clubs that need only one point to advance to the next phase, but if they are to get there, the English side will have to earn it at defending champions FC Barcelona on Tuesday.
While the Blues have been perfect through three games in Group A, Barcelona, who lost at Chelsea two weeks ago and have only four points, have never lost to Chelsea at the Nou Camp.
Werder Bremen, who plays Levski Sofia, also have four points in the group.
Chelsea have played at Barcelona five times since 1966. The closest they have come to winning was a 1-1 draw last year in the second round. Barcelona advanced to the quarterfinals 3-2 on aggregate.
After losing to Chelsea, Barcelona lost to Real Madrid in the Spanish league, but rebounded with a 3-0 win over Recreativo Huelva on Saturday, which kept them in first place in the Spanish league.
Ronaldinho scored twice.
“It was a very important victory,” Barcelona coach Frank Rijkaard said. “Again we saw an organised, fighting team, which was also more aggressive. It will be the same again against Chelsea. There will be the same quality.”
With striker Samuel Eto’o injured, Eidur Gudjohnsen again will play against his former club.
Chelsea have two injury concerns, but both strikers Andriy Shevchenko (leg) and Didier Drogba (foot) travelled to Barcelona.
Manager Jose Mourinho has said he’ll use Salomon Kalou if needed.
“He is sometimes a bit naive in his actions but he is a kid with a lot of qualities and to play in Barcelona could be a big occasion for him,” Mourinho said.
Hilario looks set to remain in goal despite Carlo Cudicini having recovered from his concussion. Chelsea’s number three goalkeeper made his club debut against Barcelona after Petr Cech needed surgery for a skull fracture and Cudicini was also out.
Hilario saved a penalty in Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Sheffield United in the English Premier League on Saturday.
Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Valencia and Lyon also only need a point to secure a place in the next round.
AC Milan, Liverpool and PSV Eindhoven are also in good shape, but other former champions are in danger of missing the cut.
Inter Milan trail Bayern by six points and must win at Spartak Moscow on Tuesday to keep their hopes of overhauling Sporting Lisbon for second place in Group B.
Inter will have defender Fabio Grosso back after a two-match European suspension was cut in half.
Bayern host Sporting and will be without forward Lukas Podolski, who hurt his right ankle in training on Thursday and will be sidelined for three weeks.
Steaua Bucharest, the 1986 champions, are third in Group E, six points behind Lyon and three points behind nine-time champions Real Madrid. Steaua are at Madrid on Wednesday.
The Spanish team is again likely to leave midfielder David Beckham and striker Ronaldo on the bench, increasing doubts about their futures at the club.
Lyon host Dynamo Kiev without striker Fred, who is recovering from a torn thigh muscle.
Former champions FC Porto play Hamburg on Wednesday in Group G.
CKSA Moscow, who lead the group by one point, are at Arsenal—last season’s runners-up.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said the 1-0 loss in Moscow two weeks ago was a wake-up call.
“It was not a reality check, it was an arrogant way of not being urgent,” Wenger said. “It was just thinking ‘We will do it.’ It was not ‘Look at how good we are’.”
Benfica, champions in 1961 and 1962, are in trouble in Group F. The Portuguese side hosts Celtic on Wednesday, while Manchester United travel to FC Copenhagen. Celtic have six points, while Benfica and Copenhagen have one each.
Man United have been boosted by the return to form of striker Wayne Rooney, who scored three goals on Saturday in a 4-0 league win over Bolton to end a 10-match scoring drought for club and country.
Also on Tuesday, it’s: Liverpool vs Bordeaux and PSV Eindhoven vs Galatasaray in Group C; and Shakhtar Donetsk vs Valencia and AS Roma vs Olympiakos in Group D.
On Wednesday, it’s also: AEK Athens vs Lille and AC Milan vs Anderlecht in Group H.—Sapa-AP