Chelsea is confident of making it three wins in three group games when it faces struggling Atletico Madrid at home in the Champions League on Wednesday but knows it can’t afford to repeat the defensive mistakes which are hurting it in the Premier League.
Its domestic title hopes have been hit by away defeats to Wigan and Aston Villa, but Chelsea will remain top of its Champions League group with a home victory over the Spanish club.
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“Tomorrow’s match is important.” manager Carlo Ancelotti said Tuesday. “We want to arrive (in the knockout round) in the first place from this group. Tomorrow we have a great big opportunity to do this.”
Both Ancelotti and goalkeeper Petr Cech said, however, the Blues need to cut out mistakes at set pieces. Villa’s two goals were headers from corner kicks and that defeat meant that Chelsea lost the Premier League leadership to Manchester United on Saturday.
“We have to improve. If you don’t pay attention you can get a bad result and this is not good,” Ancelotti said. “You can lose a game when you play bad but, against Aston Villa, we didn’t play bad. We did a good match and we have to play another good match and to win.”
Cech, who was also partly to blame for Villa’s second goal by failing to get to the cross, said there were problems at the Wigan defeat too.
“The last two away games we’ve conceded three goals from set plays so we need to get our discipline with marking and avoid these goals, because they can be costly,” the Czech ‘keeper said.
“At the moment we are a little bit unlucky as well, but we know we have to pay more attention and have better concentration next time.”
Although striker Didier Drogba serves the third and final game of his UEFA suspension for his rant at a referee after last season’s semifinal defeat against Barcelona, Chelsea hopes to have Michael Ballack back in midfield after an ankle injury.
But rightback Jose Bosingwa, who missed the first two games through suspension, was ruled out of the game against Atletico on Tuesday because of a knee injury he picked up at Aston Villa.
Ancelotti’s team should be confident of beating an Atletico side which has only one victory in seven games. The team lost 3-0 at Osasuna on Sunday and coach Abel Resino knows a defeat at Stamford Bridge could put his job on the line.
The team has conceded 17 goals, more than any other Spanish league club so far this season but the players have said it would be a wrong move to sack Resino.
“Do you think that firing the coach would be the solution? Personally, I don’t think so,” striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle said. “The same could continue even if Abel goes.”
Diego Forlan should return to the lineup, the coach having rested the Uruguay international following his return from South American World Cup qualifiers.