Kick-off: 19:45 (BST)
Valencia will be looking for a win that will give themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for the UEFA Cup. And, despite a poor run of form, coach Ronald Koeman believes they can do it.
Victory away to Liverpool as Benfica coach, and a draw at Arsenal while in charge of PSV Eindhoven, give the Dutchman confidence as he prepares to face Chelsea.
“It’s a pleasure to play in England against English teams because it’s always a good atmosphere,” he said. “You do get opportunities in these games and I am confident we can take something out of the game.”It is very important for the club that we go into the UEFA Cup,” Koeman added.
Chelsea have already guaranteed their progress as group winners while Valenci’s task is not helped by the loss through suspension of captain David Albelda after his red card against Schalke.
Chelsea are missing Didier Drogba, who underwent a knee operation this week and is expected to be out for around three weeks, and goalkeeper Petr Cech. Several players are likely to be rested as Avram Grant looks ahead to Sunday’s Premier League clash at Arsenal.
“It’s not so important because of what we have done in the group, qualifying with one game to go,” confirmed Grant. “But it’s the Champions League and we want to perform well.”
Grant pinpoints the victory at the Mestalla in October as the turning point in their season, with Chelsea having suffered just a single loss since the departure of José Mourinho.
“Everybody thought Chelsea were a little bit down and would continue to be down after we lost to Manchester United,” he said. “But we won in Valencia, played very well and our attitude was very good. Now we can see how important that game was.”