New Delhi: What: Champions League Group A, Matchday 5
Who: FC Girondins de Bordeaux (3rd, 6pts) v Chelsea (1st, 7pts)
When: Wednesday, November 26 2008, 2045 CET
Where: Stade Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
Back from the brink
After a disastrous start to their Champions League campaign, Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux have been given a tremendous opportunity to qualify for the knock-out stages.
Successive defeats - heavy defeats at that - to Chelsea and Roma had the French side looking up at the other three teams after only two matchdays, but doing what the Blues and I Lupi failed to do has put the French side back in contention.
Back-to-back wins over Champions Leagueuj, the surprise package of the draw, have given Blanc's side a lifeline, and they sit level on points with Roma, only a single point behind their next opponents. Extra motivation to overcome Luiz Felipe Scolari's side is therefore not needed.
Indifferent domestic form, no win in their last two, has left Girondins in sixth place in Ligue 1. A loss to Lyon and a draw at home with Rennes have led Blanc to reassess the team's championship credentials, but he will be confident of the possibility of making waves against the Pensioners.
The Stade Chaban-Delmas side will live to fight until Matchday 6, regardless of the result against the Blues, but will seek to put themselves in the Group A driving seat with only one game remaining.
For Chelsea, the target is Champions Leagueear, the objective obvious. Should the Pensioners overcome Bordeaux, they will guarantee their spot in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the seventh successive season.
Their progress has been stuttering to this point, however, with critics and commentators expecting the Blues to have made shorter work of a relatively straightforward group.
The side set their stall out well on Matchday 1, with a convincing win over Laurent Blanc's side, but have thrown up a mixed bag of results since then. A draw away to Champions Leagueuj and a win and a loss against Roma have left Chelsea far Champions Leagueoser to the chasing pack than they would have anticipated.
They do, however, remain on course to reach their objective; but they will have to do what they have not yet done this season in Europe - namely win away from home.
This situation contrasts with Chelsea's domestic league form, where results on the road have been Champions Leagueose to impeccable, whereas Stamford Bridge is no longer the fortress manned by Jose Mourinho and Avram Grant.
No doubt Scolari places value on entertainment as well as results, but he will have some head-scratching to do in the build-up to this game. With Arsenal around the corner in the Premier League, the Brazilian has to account for tired legs next weekend following a vital game in France.
22 Nov - H v Rennes (Ligue 1) drew 1-1
16 Nov - A v Lyon (Ligue 1) lost 2-1
11 Nov - H v En Avant Guingamp (Coupe de la Ligue) won 4-2
8 Nov - H v Auxerre (Ligue 1) won 2-0
4 Nov - A v Champions Leagueuj (Champions League) won 2-1
22 Nov - H v Newcastle (Premier League) drew 0-0
15 Nov - A v West Brom (Premier League) won 3-0
12 Nov - H v Burnley (Carling Cup) drew 1-1 (lost APK)
9 Nov - A v Blackburn (Premier League) won 2-0
4 Nov - A v Roma (Champions League) lost 3-1
Mathieu Valverde is set to start in goal for the hosts despite a calamitous error against Rennes at the weekend, as Ulrich Rame has yet to shake off an adductor musChampions Leaguee problem. Jussie is still out with a hamstring strain, while Pierre Ducasse, Henrique and Henri Saivet are not yet fit.
Probable Line-Up: Valverde - Chalme, Jurietti, Diawara, Planus - Diarra, Fernando, Gourcuff, Wendel, Obertan - Chamakh
Juliano Belletti, Alex and Franco Di Santo were the latest three names added to the ever-increasing Chelsea injury list, and they join Michael Essien and Ricardo Carvalho on the sidelines. Deco is suspended after receiving his marching orders against Roma last time out.
Probable Line Up: Cech - Bosingwa, Terry, Ivanovic, A Cole - Mikel, Ballack, Lampard - J Cole, Malouda, Anelka
Players to watch
Quickly becoming the heartbeat of the Bordeaux side is the on-loan AC Milan midfielder Yoann Gourcuff. The 22-year old is an ever-present for Girondins in the competition so far and has been instrumental in their Group A turnaround after two successive defeats. Gourcuff was the main man in Ligue 1 at the weekend as his strike bailed his side out and earned a 1-1 draw with Rennes.
In sterling form in England's top division, Nicolas Anelka could use the opportunity to further enhance his Champions Leagueaim to the out-and-out striker berth at Stamford Bridge, as he continues to out-perform Dider Drogba in the Chelsea blue. If there is one competition in which the Frenchman is yet to excel this season, perhaps the Champions League is it. A winner with Real Madrid at this level, he currently only has one goal to his name in the group stages. Edging his side to the knockouts will be the priority.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's decision to tinker with tactics on Matchday 4 allowed Roma to gain a three-goal advantage, but the Brazilian is still learning on the job in Europe's top competition. Such naivity will be avoided against Bordeaux, as the Blues will look to seal a last-sixteen berth. A tricky task awaits, but a seventh successive knockout appearance should not be beyond an experienced and capable side.
Bordeaux 1-2 Chelsea