Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea side, finalists in May, are far from certain of progressing in this season's Champions League.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea side, finalists in May, are far from certain of progressing in this season's Champions League.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea side, finalists in May, are far from certain of progressing in this season's Champions League.

Scolari's case of travel sickness

Chelsea may be top of the English Premier League but they have failed to click into gear in Europe where they take on a buoyant Bordeaux.

The swaggering Luiz Felipe Scolari resembles and carries himself with as much animation as Gene Hackman in his acting prime, but the Brazilian idealist's Chelsea side have curiously looked far from surefooted in adapting to the demands of changing roles.

The London club are perched on top of the English Premier League, yet failure to down Bordeaux in France tonight would leave them twitchy and would confine them to a horrid tussle to escape from Champions League Group A. It could be argued that it is the personal failings of a side that went all the way to the final of this tournament last season only to lose to Manchester United in a wretched penalty decider that has enabled all four teams to remain viable.

With two fixtures remaining, Chelsea are one point clear of Roma and Bordeaux, and three clear of CFR Cluj. Chelsea walloped Bordeaux 4-0 at home in their opening match, but their travels have become travails in seeking points outside of England. A noteworthy save from the goalkeeper Petr Cech allowed them to get out of Cluj with a 0-0 draw, but they slumped to a 3-1 loss at AS Roma in their last match.

Such a loss promotes a feeling that they could yet be early casualties this season. Boisterous 'Big Phil', the man who oversaw Brazil's winning of the World Cup in 2002, has quickly become domesticated since touching down in English football, but his boasts that the London side have become "Brazilianised" do not make so much sense in Europe. Scolari side's have lost a solitary match in England, to their fellow league leaders Liverpool, and have scored goals at will at Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion. Even the broody Nicolas Anelka has rediscovered himself with 12 goals in the Premier League, yet Europe continues to provide a challenge of a different nature.

The trick is to scrub themselves up and don their Sunday best ahead of the weekend's league match with their London foes Arsenal. As a match, facing Bordeaux is not a delightful diversion. Frank Lampard may once have stated his belief that the English Premier League means more than the Champions League, but the club's owner Roman Abramovich remains on a mission from near Moscow to close this tournament out in his club's favour.

The prime target under Abramovich's gaze is the European Cup. No other trophy in club football can match it for stature, despite the millions he has thrown to contest the English title. Didier Drogba, the former Marseille player, will miss facing Arsenal after his suspension for throwing a coin among fans during a League Cup tie against Burnley, but could play alongside Anelka in Bordeaux. With Florent Malouda in their midfield, Chelsea should have detailed knowledge of Bordeaux, who occupy sixth place in the French league.

Malouda is welcoming Drogba's availability. He said: "It will be a good thing for us. I think he will be angry, and show he has things to do for the team." This match is not quite a minefield, but these are potentially dangerous times for Scolari and Chelsea. dkane@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Al Rayyan's Yakubu Ayegbeni, left, tries to escape the attention of Jazira's Khamis Ismail. Karim Jaafar / AFP Photo

Late strike puts Al Jazira on verge of qualifying for the last 16 of Asian Champions League

All to play for across East Asia during final round of group phase.

 Manchester City's Vincent Kompany reacts after being sent off by referee Lee Mason during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at the KC stadium in Hull, northern England March 15, 2014. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

Man City’s Manuel Pellegrini says Vincent Kompany is an important player

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini defends team captain and talks about team's injuries ahead of clash with Sunderland at home on Wednesday night.

 Supporters of China during the Asian Cup Qualifier match between Iraq vs China at Sharjah football stadium in Sharjah. Iraq won the match by 3-1. Pawan Singh / The National

Asian Cup expanding to 24 football teams in 2019

As part of a regional shake-up, the 2019 Asian Cup will climb to 24 teams but next month’s Challenge Cup in the Maldives will be the last, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) announced.

 Latifa Ali Al Shamsi of UAE fights compatriot Boshra Ghanem Al Zadjali in their 38.5kg match at the Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Christopher Pike / The National

Competitors at Abu Dhabi Junior World Jiu-Jitsu Championship target world domination

All of Wednesday’s winners at the tournament, being held in the UAE capital, are ambitious enough to target a black belt and reach the pinnacle of the sport, Amith Passela reports.

 Jacques Kallis top-scored with 72 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Pawan Singh / The National

Kallis kicks off IPL 7 with fifty as Kolkata thrash Mumbai

South African legend shows class is permanent as Knight Riders beat defending champions by 41 runs. Osman Samiuddin reports from Abu Dhabi.

 Amir Khan, during a workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England, says his fight will be the real main event in Las Vegas on May 3. Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Amir Khan says bout with Luis Collazo ‘will steal the show’ in Las Vegas on May 3

British-Pakistani boxer Amir Khan says his fight with Luis Collazo will be the main attraction on same fight card led by Floyd Mayweather Jr and Marcos Maidana, writes Omar Al Raisi.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National