Chelsea v Napoli, 19:45 (agg. 1-3)
Roberto di Matteo is not a man many people give a snowball’s chance in hell of getting the Chelsea job full-time, but the one prize that has so far eluded all of Roman’s hired men is the Champions League, and if the Italian could do the impossible and deliver that bauble a lot could change for him. The first step in that journey is getting a win tonight, and qualification would require a win of unusual quality, certainly enough to get the attention of his paymasters.
Unfortunately, Chelsea were comprehensively outplayed in Naples, and it is only the away goal that gives their challenge credibility at this stage. The team haven’t played any better under the new boss, simply in a less adventurous way, and a 1-0 result here would not be much use. For the first time we will be seeing di Matteo tested tactically, and Napoli are certainly a massive test.
The problem for Chelsea will most likely be the attacking strength of their visitors, in combination with the home team needing to score goals. Cavani, Lavezzi and Hamsik are three of the best in Europe when it comes to inventive, incisive attack, and together they seem even greater than the not inconsiderable sum of their parts.
Juan Mata and Daniel Sturridge are set to return to the Chelsea line-up, and Didier Drogba could be preferred to Fernando Torres up front. Napoli rested Cavani and Lavezzi in their recent league outing, meaning they come in fully fit and prepared. I think the Italians will qualify (4/11, SkyBet), but Chelsea will win it by one goal, at 3/1 with Bet365.