BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Few would have imagined that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho’s job would be in danger just six months after winning the Premier League title.
And nobody would have fathomed that humble Dynamo Kiev could prove his undoing.
But yet another domestic loss over the weekend means Wednesday’s seemingly routine Champions League match against Kiev has taken on must-win status for the beleaguered Portuguese coach.
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”It’s a big game,” Mourinho said. ”It’s a game that we cannot lose.”
Mourinho denied that he was under immediate pressure after Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Liverpool despite his team only winning once in its last eight matches across all competitions.
With its Premier League title defense having turned into an uphill fight just to secure a top-four finish, Chelsea now must focus on salvaging its season in Europe.
After a loss to FC Porto and a 0-0 draw in Ukraine, Chelsea’s chances of advancing are dwindling as it sits third in Group G with four points behind second-place Kiev’s five. Porto leads with seven before visiting bottom-side Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
The marquee matchups of this batch of matches are Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to face Cristiano Ronaldo’s Real Madrid and Arsenal seeking a second straight win against Bayern Munich in Germany.
Here are some more things to know about this week’s Champions League matches:
While Chelsea is the worst off, none of England’s four teams lead their group halfway to the knockout rounds.
Manchester United also needs to break a run of subpar performances after a 0-0 stalemate at Crystal Palace was its third straight game without scoring a goal.
Louis van Gaal’s team has only one win in its last six matches overall before hosting an in-form CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.
Anthony Martial scored United’s last goal to salvage a 1-1 draw at Moscow. That left United in second place in Group B level on points with the Russian side in third. CSKA beat Ufa 2-0 for its 11th win in 14 domestic league matches over the weekend.
”I have to hope we score against Moscow again because then we are talking in a different way,” Van Gaal said.
Manchester City trails Juventus in Group D before visiting Sevilla on Tuesday.
BEAT THE BUS
Bayern’s opponents seem to have figured out how to play Pep Guardiola’s high-scoring team: put all your men in front of your own goal and hope for the best.
Eintracht Frankfurt did just that on Friday, when it stopped Bayern’s 10-match winning streak in the Bundesliga with a 0-0 draw.
Defender Jerome Boateng doesn’t expect things to be much different when the Group F leader hosts Arsenal on Wednesday.
”Arsenal pulled everyone back at home and I guess it’ll be pretty much the same again,” Boateng said.
Arsenal’s defend-first approach at home was effective – it won 2-0 to sit third in the group with three points.
Angel Di Maria is starting to settle in well at PSG – which is bad timing for his old club.
The Argentina winger made his name with Madrid, playing nearly 200 games and scoring 36 goals in four seasons.
Having helped Madrid win the Champions League for the 10th time two seasons ago, he now aims to help PSG win it for the first time.
Di Maria scored for French league leader PSG to beat Rennes 1-0 on Friday and maintain its unbeaten start.
Madrid is hampered by injuries for Tuesday’s match but is enjoying another scoring streak by Ronaldo, who has 13 goals in as many games this season.
Madrid and PSG drew 0-0 in Paris last match. They sit atop Group A with seven points each.