Chelsea striker Fernando Torres will look to keep his scoring touch going when his team visits Valencia on Wednesday in the Champions League.
After scoring only once since transferring from Liverpool last season, Torres has found the back of the net in two straight Premier League matches.
The Spain striker also set up David Luiz and Juanma Mata in Chelsea’s 2-0 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen.
“They are a great team and we know that they are ready for us,” Torres said about Valencia. “It’s going to be very, very tough.”
The crowd at Mestalla Stadium, however, will likely be focused on Mata, who will be making a return to his former club after leaving at the end of the transfer window.
“I talk to him a lot and am very excited to play against him,” Valencia forward Pablo Hernandez said. “But on the pitch there are no friends, so we will try to beat Juanma and his team, and then after the game wish him well.”
In the other Group E match, Leverkusen hosts Genk.
‘We need points’
Valencia enters the game coming off a 1-0 loss to nine-man Sevilla, its first defeat in 10 games. It drew 0-0 at Genk in their Champions League opener and is looking to avenge two straight losses in Chelsea’s last visits to Mestalla stadium.
“It is clear that after the draw at Genk we need points,” Hernandez said.
The two-time finalist will be spearheaded by striker Roberto Soldado, who has taken Mata’s place as fan favourite with five goals to start this season and 17 goals in his last 15 appearances.
Soldado should be well rested after sitting out most of Saturday’s loss in Seville.
After years of being a top title contender both in England and the continent, Chelsea is in a period of transition in Andre Villas-Boas’ first season and sits three points behind front-runners Manchester United and Manchester City in the Premier league.
While the two Manchester sides are putting on dazzling attacking displays, Chelsea has scored a mundane 12 goals in the English league compared to the 21 they had after six games last season.
But veteran goalkeeper Petr Cech said staying atop the group with a second win would help Chelsea in all competitions.
“Everybody is counting Valencia as one of the main rivals so this will be a difficult one,” Cech said. “If you are chasing every trophy it is always good to have as many points as possible as soon as possible in the Champions League, gain qualification and then you can concentrate until the new year on the Premier League and the Carling Cup.”
In Germany, Leverkusen will look to rebound from its loss to Chelsea against a Genk side it had no trouble beating 4-1 in a friendly this summer.
Swiss forward Eren Derdiyok scored a hat trick for the Bundesliga runner-up in that game against Genk.
The Belgian champions enter the game coming off a 1-1 draw away at Oud-Heverlee Leuven. — Sapa-AP