Blues Aim For No Slips On Moscow Return

Twelve yards, a ball, a goalkeeper and a defender, John Terry vs. Edwin Van Der Sar, this for the European Champions League, the run up and then in slow motion the slip, and as if in slow motion, the ball cannons back off the post and United go on to steal the Champions League from Chelsea.

Two years, three managers and another semi final heartbreak later, Chelsea return to the scene which has haunted them ever since that fateful night in May.

Although an entirely different team is likely to be fielded tonight, only three players from that final are expected to start; Terry, Ashley Cole and Malouda – with youngster McEachran expected to start ahead of Essien, who will be rested because of fears over the artificial pitch.

Along with Essien a further seven players are out injured, including Didier Drogba, who was sent off here two years ago after he slapped United defender Vidic during the closing moments of injury time.

Like Chelsea, Spartak Moscow also has a couple of injury concerns ahead of the Group F clash, as they also look to continue their 100% start. Brazilian Midfielder Alex is out with a thigh injury, and 23-year-old striker Welliton is also struggling with the same problem. Former Celtic man Aiden McGeady is likely to line up on the right against Ashley Cole following his summer move from the Old Firm side.

Having famously lost a Champions League final with AC Milan against Liverpool in 2005, Chelsea Boss Carlo Ancelotti knows all about the heartbreak of losing a final, however he also knows how to bounce back, his AC Milan side defeated Liverpool two years later to gain revenge after Milan’s penalty shootout defeat in Istanbul.

Chelsea’s Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic is expecting a tough game at the Luzhnki Stadium, having played there before joining Chelsea; “I remember (playing for Lokomotiv) against Spartak, Torpedo and CSKA Moscow. It was always difficult there. And this time we will not have an easy ride. Especially, as we have several players injured.” 

A draw tonight will be a good result for a injury ravaged Chelsea side, 7 points from 3 games would leave them joint top with Spartak in the group, and they play them at the Bridge when the next Champions League fixtures come around.

A win at the Bridge would almost secure qualification to the next round, and we all know how important finishing top in your group is.