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

Chelsea step into the lion’s den on Tuesday night and Andre Villas-Boas has been portrayed as the condemned man.

The Stamford Bridge club take on Napoli at the fiercely intimidating Stadio San Paolo in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League knowing the first leg is of critical importance.

Speculation has suggested Villas-Boas could be sacked if Chelsea are ultimately knocked out of Europe in the wake of a domestic five-game winless run.

The Portuguese 34-year-old has come under severe scrutiny amid a disappointing season, but he was full of steely determination on Monday evening.

At his pre-Napoli press conference in the bowls of Napoli’s stadium, Villas-Boas gave an excellent, fighting speech and insisted he enjoys the full support of Chelsea’s board.

The manager did imply it would be good to hear public backing from Roman Abramovich, and it remains to be seen if the tinkering club owner acts, but he is clearly confident.

Whether Chelsea, who could welcome back John Terry, can match the focus of Villas-Boas on the field remains to be seen against a dangerous Napoli side.

Walter Mazzarri’s team may be sitting sixth in Serie A, but they have been this season’s surprise package in the Champions League and finished above Manchester City in Group A.

City failed to win at the Etihad Stadium before losing in Italy after finding out about the threat of Napoli’s star trio of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani and Marek Hamsik.

Napoli will be hampered by the absence from their dugout of Mazzarri, who begins a two-match touchline ban, but they will still prove a major threat to Chelsea.

Since returning to continental competition after 13 years in 2008, Napoli have gone 11 home matches unbeaten.

The last foreign outfit to prevail in Naples were Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1994.

Terry remains a doubt and his return from three weeks out is dependent on how his injured knee reacts to Monday night’s training session.

Villas-Boas is more optimistic about Ashley Cole recovering from a calf problem, while Didier Drogba looks set to start in attack in place of Fernando Torres.

Ramires and John Obi Mikel returned to action as starters against Birmingham in Saturday’s disappointing FA Cup draw with Birmingham.

Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis missed Friday’s 3-0 win over Fiorentina due to a slight knock suffered in training, but he is expected to start against Chelsea.

Hugo Campagnaro has been included in Napoli’s 19-man squad, despite being forced off with a calf injury against Fiorentina.

Midfielder Eduardo Vargas is out with a twisted ankle.

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