Champions League sees clash at top of the table

Football fans are used to seeing mouth-watering fixtures in the Uefa Champions League group phase, and match-day four is no exception
Football fans are used to seeing mouth-watering fixtures in the Uefa Champions League group phase, and match-day four is no exception

Football fans are used to seeing mouth-watering fixtures in the Uefa Champions League group phase, and match-day four is no exception.

Premier League giants Chelsea are hoping for their first success at home in this year’s campaign as they take on four-time champions Ajax Amsterdam at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. Both clubs currently top Group H with six points each, two points ahead of Valencia, who have four.

The Blues lost their opening match at home to Valencia 1-0, with Ross Barkley missing a penalty, but have since won back-to-back away games in Lille and Amsterdam, with substitute Michy Batshuayi scoring a late winner against Ajax to secure a victory that was somewhat against the run of play.

The victory was part of a run of seven wins in a row in all competitions for Chelsea, but it was ended by a 2-1 home defeat against Manchester United midweek in the League Cup.

In Christian Pulišic, Chelsea have one of the in-form players of the moment, as the American international has become used to the Premier League following his transfer from Borussia Dortmund.

The 21-year-old became Chelsea’s youngest player to score a hat-trick in the Premier League last weekend, beating the record set by Tammy Abraham less than two months earlier. No other club has had two players 21 or younger score Premier League hat-tricks.

Chelsea coach Frank Lampard will be encouraged by the form young players such as Pulišic, Abraham and Mason Mount have been showing after the club was banned from signing players in the last transfer window due to financial infringements.

It is not all good news for the Chelsea legend, though, as he has a host of injury worries ahead of the game, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Antonio Rüdiger, Emerson Palmieri, N’Golo Kanté, Andreas Christensen and Barkley all either doubtful or definitely out.

The visitors, however, will be no pushovers as two 3-0 victories (at home to Lille and in Valencia) set them up with six points from their opening two matches.

Last season, they went from the second qualifying round all the way to the semifinals, where only a goal six minutes into extra time gave Tottenham Hotspur an away-goal win.

They are currently on an impressive unbeaten away run in European matches, having won six of their past 12 games and having drawn the other six.

The clash at Stamford Bridge is, of course, not the only game that will have football fans glued to their televisions.

In Group F, Barcelona, who are taking on Slavia Prague at home, seem well on course to top the group, but behind them, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan are involved in a titanic battle for the second berth in the knockout stage.

The Serie A club beat the Bundesliga team 2-0 at home two weeks ago and, although both teams have four points, Inter lead on the head-to-head count.

In other words, Dortmund will be looking to at least reverse the 2-0 result. Coach Lucien Favre is under pressure, despite being just three points off table-topping Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga and having beaten them 2-1 in the German Cup midweek.

German media has speculated that Dortmund could be eying José Mourinho to take over should results not improve under Favre, who said after the German Cup game that he thought the team had played well and was consistently improving.

One player who certainly caught his eye was German international Julian Brandt, who scored both goals in the victory and showed his best performance since moving to Dortmund from Bayer Leverkusen at the start of the season.

With Brandt on fire, Dortmund could well get the result they are looking for – one they probably need.


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