Chelsea will travel to Naples this week as definite long odds underdogs with Bet365, intent on turning their domestic woes into Champions League progression as they continue to struggle with recent form.
Andre Villas Boas has found it hard to make his way out of the paper talk this season following a below par run of results over December and January.
The Portuguese boss’ side most recently stumbled to a league loss at Goodison Park followed swiftly by an FA Cup draw against Birmingham City, which will be replayed at St. Andrew’s later on in the campaign.
However, luck may not fall so kindly for them as standing in their path is Napoli, who appear to be hitting form at the perfect time.
The Azzurri are unbeaten in their last five matches and are now just five points off a Champions League spot, making for good timing with their Round of 16 tie against Chelsea now in sight.
A 3-0 drubbing of Fiorentina last Friday night will have put Walter Mazzarri’s side in the perfect frame of mind as they face a stuttering Blues side, who have shown signs of ineptitude in recent performances.
One positive the away side can boast is that John Terry could return from injury on Tuesday as the West London outfit strive to beef up their defence.
Gary Cahill and David Luiz have deputised in the absence of the former England captain but are bound to fall victim to a Napoli attack boasting the services of the fearsome trio of Marek Hamsik, Ezequiel Lavezzi and of course, Edinson Cavani.
Cavani’s goal count for the season currently stands at 22 and if Chelsea are anywhere near as vulnerable this Tuesday as they were against Everton last weekend, they risk making a second leg fixture at Stamford Bridge a significantly more difficult one.
The tall Uruguayan should have a healthy supply of possession, with Christian Maggio more than capable of giving Ashley Cole problems down the right side.
The Blues have reiterated that they are still a team bonded as one and all the signs are positive coming out of the camp, but in reality Chelsea will need to have their defensive grit and stubborness of old if they are to get anything from their game at the Stadio San Paolo tonight, and with mounting injury problems at the back it could be a long night for Andre Villas Boas and his side.