Thursday 8 December 2016

GROUP E

Published 11/09/2011 | 05:00

Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer

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Leverkusen, Genk

Andre Villas Boas is the latest charged with the task of bringing Roman Abramovich the trophy he is said to covet more than any other, but at this stage it may be easier if the Chelsea owner were to refocus his thoughts on something easier to win like, say, the Carling Cup or Europa League. Not that it is beyond the realms of possibility for Villas Boas to deliver his owner's wish in his first season.

Chelsea have been unconvincing in their opening Premier League games and Fernando Torres has been critical of how slow Chelsea's midfield are in possession, but the signing of Juan Mata should see the striker get the service he craves and should let the rest of us see if Torres is still capable of the kind of devastating performances he showed in his first two years in England.

Mata will come up against his former side Valencia, who he captained last season. Coach Unai Emery has been doing an impressive job at the Mestalla but the loss of Mata will be keenly felt and they are likely to face a battle with Bayer Leverkusen for second spot.

The German side have former Chelsea player Michael Ballack in their ranks and have started the Bundesliga season impressively. Their home form will be key to how far they go.

Genk, inspired by their 19-year-old winger Kevin de Bruyne, will also aim to surprise one or two on home soil.

Key player: Juan Mata (right)

Key game: Bayer Leverkusen v Valencia, Oct 19

Prediction: 1 Chelsea, 2 Bayer Leverkusen, 3 Valencia 4 Genk

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