Struggling Chelsea coach
Andre Villas-Boas faces the biggest match of his managerial
career in a Champions League last-16 first leg at Napoli on
The focus will all be on the Portuguese given his
counterpart Walter Mazzarri is banned from the touchline for
pushing an opponent in the group stage.
While Mazzarri roars on his charges from the stands at the
noisy and cavernous San Paolo, Villas-Boas will cut another
lonely figure on the touchline if Chelsea do not get a grip on
The London side have won just two of their last 10 league
games and drew 1-1 at home with second tier Birmingham City in
the FA Cup Fifth Round on Saturday, prompting speculation
Villas-Boas could be axed if the Napoli game goes badly.
"You need an extra mental push to feel that confidence in a
different way, it comes with results and at the moment results
are not happening so until you get out of that cycle with a win
it perpetuates a bit," said Villas-Boas.
Asked why he thought his side could win at the San Paolo, he
added: "Because it's football and sometimes it happens just like
that, how you least expect. Napoli is a strong team but we are a
His ageing outfit are fifth in the Premier League and in
danger of missing the Champions League for next term as fans
begin to wonder if one stellar year as coach of Porto has given
the 34-year-old enough experience to cope at Stamford Bridge.
On Saturday, some chanted the name of former boss Jose
Mourinho, who won two Premier League titles with Chelsea.
Chelsea's ruthless billionaire owner Roman Abramovich may
have cut ties with Claudio Ranieri, Mourinho, Luiz Felipe
Scolari, Avram Grant and Carlo Ancelotti when he felt results
did not meet his high expectations but there is hope for
Guus Hiddink was considered as the most likely to candidate
to be brought in to save Chelsea's season for a second time but
the Dutchman signed with Russia's Anzhi Makhachkala last week.
To avoid Abramovich having a big decision to make before the
second leg, Villas-Boas has to choose between misfiring Fernando
Torres or Didier Drogba upfront.
The Ivorian came on for the Spaniard at halftime against
Birmingham having returned from the Africa Cup ofNations and
looks the most likely to lead the line.
Frank Lampard was on the bench but could return in Naples
with Chelsea looking void of ideas in the first half where Juan
Mata missed a penalty.
Away from Europe where they have sparkled - helping knock
out Premier League leaders Manchester City - Napoli have
disappointed in Serie A but won 3-0 at Fiorentina on Friday to
move up to sixth.
South American strikers Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi
both scored in Florence to sharpen their form for the visit of
the 2008 runners-up, who may be without captain and centre-back
John Terry because of injury alongside left back Ashley Cole.
"Both are in with a chance of making it," Villas-Boas said.
Uruguay's Cavani is licking his lips at the prospect of
facing an injury-hit back-line.
"We are looking forward to this great match in the Champions
League on Tuesday and will give our utmost to get another great
result for our fans, who will be there with us at the San
Paolo," said Cavani, whose side may be without Hugo Campagnaro.
Napoli: 1-Morgan De Sanctis; 2-Gianluca Grava, 28-Paolo
Cannavaro, 85-Miguel Britos; 11-Christian Maggio, 23-Walter
Gargano, 88-Gokhan Inler, 8-Andrea Dossena; 17-Marek Hamsik,
22-Ezequiel Lavezzi; 7-Edinson Cavani.
Chelsea: 1-Petr Cech; 2-Branislav Ivanovic, 4-David Luiz,
26-John Terry, 3-Ashley Cole; 7-Ramires, 12-John Obi Mikel,
8-Frank Lampard; 10-Juan Mata, 23-Daniel Sturridge; 11-Didier
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain).
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