AVB taking nothing for granted

The Blues will be expected to take a huge step towards the knockout

stages in their two Group E games with the Belgian runners-up, but

Villas-Boas has refused to take anything for granted. “I think it’s

going to be difficult,” he said ahead of Wednesday night’s clash at

Stamford Bridge, which is followed two weeks later by the return

fixture in Genk. “When everyone expects you to win, that’s when you

maybe relax yourself too much and we can’t relax ourselves too

much.” Six points would put Chelsea in complete control of the

group, a position they would be in already but for Salomon Kalou’s

moment of madness which handed Valencia a draw in their last

outing. The Blues still top the pool on four points, one clear of

Bayer Leverkusen and two ahead of Valencia, who face a

double-header of their own in the next two and a half weeks. Villas

Boas added: “At the moment, the group is very open, and anything

can happen. We lost two points in Valencia that we wanted badly.

“We have to focus and concentrate on getting the six points against

Genk.” Doing so would leave Chelsea at least five points clear of

third place with just two matches to play, all but ensuring them a

last-16 spot. “It puts you in a very, very good position,”

Villas-Boas said. “You have to get the first three points, and then

eventually fight for the other three.” Villas-Boas looks certain to

unleash Fernando Torres on Genk, if only to give the striker some

much-needed game time. Torres is in the middle of a three-match

domestic ban following his needless red card against Swansea last

month and Europe is currently the only outlet for his talents. The

sending-off was the latest calamity to befall the £50million

man since January’s move from Liverpool and came just as he was

beginning to show signs of getting back to his best. The arrival of

fellow Spain star Juan Mata has been viewed by some as the catalyst

for Torres’ mini-revival, something played down by Villas-Boas.

However, the Portuguese did confirm the pair enjoyed a close

relationship off the field. “They have got to know each other a bit

better now and they share social behaviour,” he said. “It’s the

same with the French players going around together, and the Spanish

and Portuguese. That’s normal.” Chelsea fans have also stuck by

Torres and the 27-year-old looks like getting plenty more support

on Wednesday night, with the Genk game appearing set to be a

virtual sell-out. That did not look like being the case last month,

with disenchanted supporters threatening to boycott the match over

the recent hike in ticket prices. Last month’s Leverkusen game

witnessed the lowest crowd at Stamford Bridge for a Champions

League match since the Rosenborg boycott of 2007. The crowd looked

destined to be even lower against Genk but that now appears

unlikely, one possible reason being that supporter attention has

since shifted to the upcoming vote of Chelsea Pitch Owners that

will decide the fate of the freehold of Stamford Bridge.

Villas-Boas is confident of a bumper crowd on Wednesday night,

adding: “It should be okay. I’ve not heard anything recently.”