Home » Champ League, Latest » CL Match Preview: Chelsea vs Napoli

Chelsea will aim to succeed where Arsenal failed by overturning a first-leg deficit against Italian opposition in order to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal fell agonisingly short in their quest to make the last eight a week ago when only able to beat AC Milan 3-0 at home having lost 4-0 in the San Siro in the first leg.

The task facing Chelsea is slightly less daunting after a 3-1 defeat away by Napoli in their first meeting, with Juan Mata having scored a potentially vital away goal.

It leaves the Blues needing just a 2-0 win to qualify, however, Napoli will be mindful of the indecisive performance Milan produced in the first half against Arsenal before regrouping after half-time.

There has also been a big change at Chelsea since the first leg, with Andre Villas-Boas replaced as manager by his assistant Roberto Di Matteo for the rest of the season.

Villas-Boas drew fierce criticism for his decision to leave Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and Michael Essien out of his starting line-up for the game in Naples amid claims his relationship with the squad had broken down.

In the build-up to the game, Chelsea captain John Terry has stressed player power was not behind the removal of Villas-Boas and is hoping for one of the greatest nights in Chelsea’s history.

However, history is against the Blues, who have not won any of their past five home Champions League knockout matches and are also the sole Premier League team left in the competition.

Di Matteo has won both of his games since taking charge, without conceding a goal, and he is expected to rely on the club’s senior players for the fixture.

Terry’s quicker than expected return from knee surgery has given the Blues a boost and he should continue his partnership in defence with January signing Gary Cahill, who was all at sea in the first leg.

Raul Meireles is suspended for the game, so Essien or John Obi Mikel are likely to start in a midfield three which should also comprise Ramires and Lampard.

Daniel Sturridge and Mata will provide any width, while Drogba will be the spearhead after scoring the only goal in Saturday’s success over Stoke City.

Napoli have travelled to West London on the back of a six-game winning run and fresh from a thrilling 6-3 victory over Cagliari last Friday.

The club were also handed a boost when coach Walter Mazzarri was given the green light to sit on the bench after the Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed to study an appeal into his two-match touchline ban.

Ezequiel Lavezzi scored twice, and Edinson Cavani got the other goal, in the first leg and the South American duo will again be expected to give the Chelsea defence the run-around.

Mazzarri also has a virtually fully-fit squad to select from, with Miguel Britos and Gianluca Grava included after missing the win over Cagliari due to injury.

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