Chelsea resume champions league group G action with a tough trip away to Dynamo Kiev on Tuesday night. The Ukrainians are top of our group on goal difference from Porto, both one point clear of us heading into match day three.
Porto have beaten us and drawn with Dynamo, while Kiev beat Maccabi Tel Aviv on the last match day to stay joint top.
Dynamo won away at Maccabi 0-2, with goals from two of their key players, striker Junior Moraes, and wide man Yarmolenko. Brazilian Moraes led the line in the 2-2 draw at home to Porto in their opening fixture. He is usually supported by three players behind, in a similar 4-2-3-1 formation as utilised by Chelsea. Yarmolenko usually occupies one wing, with captain and highly rated Ukrainian international Oleh Gusev on the other side. In the centre of the three is more often than not the former Sporting Lisbon and Portugal international Miguel Veloso. The aforementioned point earned against Porto could be seen as fortunate if you just checked the goal times, as it was a last minute equaliser for Dynamo that earned them a point, but in reality they were more than a match for Porto, and were well worth a share of the spoils. Domestically, they are joint top with Shakhtar after eleven matches, but this is only after Shakhtar managed to beat Dynamo 0-3 away at the weekend, so it hasn’t been ideal preparation for Kiev. Before that they beat Vorskla away comfortably 0-4. The three goals they shipped at the weekend were the first they had conceded in six matches domestically, comprising of five wins and a draw, so they are tight at the back. As far as their backline goes, Brazilian right back Danilo Silva is an ever present, as is left back Anunes, and centre back Dragovic.
It will no doubt be an extremely tough trip for Chelsea, Kiev will be an extremely tough team to get a result against, especially at home, The weather will also be a shock in comparison to the fairly mild conditions we have played in this season so far. Temperatures after sun down will be around four degrees, but with a real feel of minus three. Obviously JT will still be in short sleeves though.
Unfortunately both Pedro and Loic Remy have been ruled out, joining Courtois and Ivanovic as being definite no shows for this fixture. Pedro started at the weekend so there will obviously be one forced change, whether Mourinho decides to shuffle the pack anymore remains to be seen.
Whilst it was good to get three points and keep a clean sheet against Aston Villa at the weekend, there wasn’t a vast improvement in performance from what we have seen lately. Villa hardly tested our backline, and we offered little penetration in the final third bar the last twenty minutes, except for when we were gifted clear-cut opportunities. There were positives to build on though. As mentioned above, we did not concede, and made no real errors at the back. Loftus Cheek got a deserved start, Willian continues to be in a rich vein of form, and our midfield definitely functioned better as a unit. Ramires was excellent, breaking up play well and is looking like he could now make one of the two deeper midfield slots his own. Matic was a lot better than he has been when he entered the fray in the second half, but will need to continually show this sort of endeavour if he is to return to the starting line up.
This is certainly not a fixture to be taken lightly, an extremely tough place to go and get a result. Especially against a side with a resolute defence who know that realistically they can’t afford to lose both of these back to back fixtures against us if they want to progress from the group. Likewise a defeat here would dent our prospects of progression, although after this match we have home matches against the top two, and an away match against Maccabi who may end up with no points in the group. A point here and victories in our remaining matches would be a good target, and would see us qualify, possibly even as group winners if Kiev could take something from Porto when they visit the Dragao.