A first defeat of the campaign has put Chelsea FC in jeopardy of missing out on the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since 2002/03 as Valencia CF visit Stamford Bridge.
An away win or a scoring draw would be enough to take the visitors through. Chelsea are in this position having lost the lead at Bayer 04 Leverkusen on matchday five, ultimately succumbing 2-1; the same night, Valencia put seven goals without reply past KRC Genk, Roberto Soldado scoring a 26-minute hat-trick, to join Chelsea on eight points, one behind Leverkusen.
It was a late Soldado penalty that earned Valencia a 1-1 draw on matchday two in the teams’ fifth fixture since April 2007. Frank Lampard had put Chelsea in front.
The game came after Chelsea‘s opening-day win against Leverkusen, while the two matches with Genk yielded a 5-0 home victory and another 1-1 away draw.
Valencia began with a goalless draw at Genk and, having drawn at Chelsea, lost 2-1 to Leverkusen before reviving their campaign with a 3-1 win at home to the Bundesliga club.
Both the previous meetings between the teams at Stamford Bridge ended level, 1-1 in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League quarter-final and 0-0 in the following season’s group stage. With Chelsea winning both away games 2-1, the London club are unbeaten in the five matches between the sides.
The lineups in the most recent meeting at Stamford Bridge on 11 December 2007 were:
Chelsea: Čech, Ferreira (Belletti 72), Ben Haim, Terry, Bridge, Wright-Phillips, Essien, Lampard, Kalou, Pizarro, Shevchenko (Makelele 46).
Valencia: Cañizares, Sunny, Albiol, Marchena, Helguera, Miguel (Fernandes 65), Vicente (Mata 75), Moretti, Silva, Villa (Arizmendi 50), Morientes.
Chelsea are undefeated against Spanish opponents, home and away, in 12 competitive fixtures since a 2-1 reverse at Stamford Bridge against FC Barcelona in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League round of 16. That was their one and only setback against Spanish opponents on home soil; their record is W7 D4 L1.
Two significant victories against Spanish opponents came on neutral soil. Chelsea played Real Madrid CF in the 1970/71 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final in Athens, prevailing in the replay 2-1 after a 1-1 draw. The teams also met in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup in Monaco, Chelsea winning 1-0.
Valencia have drawn on each of their last four visits to England, the last 12 months ago when Pablo Hernández put the visitors ahead in a group stage fixture at Manchester United FC which ended 1-1.
In a total of 14 visits to England for European ties they have drawn no less than nine, with one victory − 1-0 at Liverpool FC in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League first group stage − and four defeats.
Valencia owed their first two European trophies – the 1979/80 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and the UEFA Super Cup the following season – to victories against English opposition. They overcame Arsenal FC in the first instance following a penalty shoot-out, and then triumphed on away goals against Nottingham Forest FC. (Picture by Bogdan Bele, www.bogdanbele.com)