Chelsea travel to the Cristal Arena in Belgium this evening knowing that a victory would secure a place in the Champions League knock-out stages.
Other Group E fixture:
Valencia v Bayer Leverkusen, 19:45
Andre Villas-Boas takes charge of only his 4th Champions League tie when he comes up against Racing Genk tonight and the Portuguese boss will be expecting his side to react in the right way having seen them suffer a 5-3 defeat at the hands of London rivals Arsenal at the weekend.
Chelsea lead Group E with 7 points, just 1 ahead of 2nd place Bayer Leverkusen who travel to Valencia this evening. Genk are yet to score in the Champions League and know that they’ll need an unlikely run of 3 victories to qualify.
The Belgium champions have struggled in the new campaign and find themselves 6th place in the Jupiler League, 10 points behind leaders Anderlecht.
But the European minnows have nothing to lose going into this one, and will be buoyed by Chelsea’s recent run of 2 defeats in our last 3. Also, morale will be high after Mario Been’s side came from 4-1 down to win 5-4 away to Club Brugge at the weekend.
Key man and alleged Chelsea target Kevin De Bruyne scored the equaliser and winner in that encounter and he will be looking to make a similar impact against his potential suitors tonight.
2 weeks ago, AVB made 6 changes to the team as he allowed rests to John Terry, Ramires, Juan Mata, Didier Drogba and Daniel Sturridge.
And it would come as no surprise to see the likes of Oriol Romeu, David Luiz, Josh McEachran, Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka start this evening as we look to freshen things up before a big game at Ewood Park on Saturday.
The last time these 2 sides met Chelsea ran out victors with a 5-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge 2 weeks ago. Fernando Torres got 2 that night, and the Spaniard could find himself spearheading the attack again.
Whoever is selected, they will be expected to get the required 3 points to confirm our place in the next round. Anything other than a victory in the Cristal Arena tonight will put AVB and the team under even more scrutiny.
Home team news
Jose Nadson returns for Genk having missed the first match through injury.
Kevin De Bruyne will again start in attacking midfield in a 2nd opportunity to impress his potential suitors.
Left-back Daniel Pudil is suspended having picked up 3 yellow cards in the opening 3 matches.
Possible starting XI
Koteles; Ngongca, Nadson, Vanden Borre, Mauero; Hyland, De Bruyne, Buffel; Tozser; Ogunjimi, Barda
Away team news
Changes are expected by Villas-Boas as he considers the tricky upcoming away fixture at Blackburn.
Several players that started at the weekend could find themselves rested for the trip to Belgium, although some deserved to be dropped anyway. The impressive Romeu should start in holding midfield, whilst McEachran deserves more game time too.
Ferreira, Malouda, Anelka and Kalou could all feature from the start.
Possible starting XI
Cech; Cole, Luiz, Alex, Ferreira, Romeu, McEachran, Ramires; Kalou, Anelka, Malouda
The referee for the match is Svein Oddvar Moen from Sweden. He took charge of our 0-0 draw at home to Copenhagen last season.
Prediction: Racing Genk 0-2 Chelsea
Villas-Boas will be looking to see his side bounce back from Saturday’s horror show against Arsenal. Although he will ring a few changes, I expect the team to respond positively enough to secure a comfortable victory in Belgium. The atmosphere will be testing early on in the match but the difference in quality between the sides should tell eventually.
Come on Chels!