Wednesday’s Champions League clash in London embodies a must-win affair for one club, while serving merely as a tourist attraction for the other.
However, the match will go a long way in deciding the outcome of Group E.
For Chelsea, it’ll be imperative for the club to put signs of their recent slump behind them.
The Blues haven’t won a league contest since Oct. 20, going 0-3-4 in seven league fixtures since. In the middle of their slide, Chelsea also suffered a critical 3-0 loss to Juventus. The loss dropped them two points behind the Old Lady, leaving them third in the group with one match to play.
Now, the Blues must win on Wednesday and hope for a Juventus loss, or they will become the first-ever defending champions to be eliminated in the group stages of the competition.
Nordsjælland, on the other hand, have nothing to play for.
The Wild Tigers have long been eliminated in the competition, going winless in Group E play at 0-1-4. They’ve only scored three goals while allowing their opposition 16. That includes a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea at home in their reverse fixture.
Nordsjælland—currently ranked second in the Danish league—would be better off resting players ahead of their key matchup with league-leading FC Copenhagen on Sunday.
Will the Wild Tigers play the ultimate spoiler, or will the Blues take the first step to reigniting their season?
Where: Stamford Bridge, London, England
When: Wednesday, December 5, 2:45 p.m. EST
TV/Live Stream: FOX Soccer Channel/FOX Soccer2go
Chelsea: Will Rafa Benitez Sink or Swim?
If there was ever a game that could help revive the career of interim Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez, this might be it. Then again, if the club were to suffer defeat, it could also prove to be the final nail in his coffin.
Did we mention that Benitez is not even two weeks into his term at Stamford Bridge?
Calling these past 14 days eventful would be an understatement.
Following the shocking sacking of beloved manager Roberto Di Matteo, Blues’ owner Roman Abramovich only added further fuel to the fire by hiring Benitez to pick up the pieces. However, as a former Liverpool manager and Chelsea public enemy No. 1, all the Spaniard has accomplished thus far is to spread the pieces even further apart.
It’s quickly becoming a mess that only looks to get a lot worse before it gets any better.
Fortunately for Benitez, this Champions League fixture couldn’t have come at a better time.
Just like Di Matteo prolonged his tenure in London with an improbable Champions League run, Benitez can benefit from doing the same.
If the Spaniard can lead the Blues to a convincing victory, he’ll be on his way to winning the respect of the Chelsea supporters.
Unfortunately, whether or not his club advances to the next stage is out of his hands.
Nordsjælland: What Do the Wild Tigers Even Have to Play for?
Sure, eliminating the defending champions of the competition would be a nice consolation prize for a club that has gone winless in five fixtures thus far.
But is it really worth it?
In the Danish League, Nordsjælland are only trailing FC Copenhagen by nine points entering their pivotal showdown this weekend in Parken. The Wild Tigers are looking to repeat as league champions after putting an end to the Lions' three-year reign.
Copenhagen are in the midst of a five-game winning streak—outscoring opponents 12-2—and will likely demand the full attention of Nordsjælland. As a result, expect manager Kasper Hjulmand to rest several key players during Wednesday’s showdown with Chelsea.
It would be foolish to risk injury or exhaustion in a matchup that is nothing more than an exhibition to the club at this point.
Prediction: Chelsea 5-0
With Chelsea likely to be attacking for the full 90 minutes, don't expect this one to be close at all.
Fernando Torres might even get on the score sheet (don't bet on it).
Also check out: Why Benitez Is Not Chelsea's Ticket to More Trophies
You can follow Sebastian on Twitter at @SP7988
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