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Chelsea need to deliver when it matters most vs Dortmund in Potter’s biggest game in charge



IMAGO / Sven Simon

Graham Potter and Chelsea return to Champions League action in their biggest game of the season on Tuesday night. Despite defying the odds in Europe before, can they now do it against a red-hot Borussia Dortmund that mean business?

After what seemed like a never-ending rough patch, Chelsea were glad to see three points on the board against old rivals Leeds United on Saturday. Although the performance wasn’t perfect, Wesley Fofana watered the goal-scoring drought with a 53rd minute winner which ended up edging the Blues over the line to end their run of three straight defeats in all competitions. 

The victory does keep Graham Potter’s side in the top half of the Premier League table, but more importantly, it will also inject the team with a much-needed dose of confidence heading into Tuesday’s European clash.

Over the past few weeks, Chelsea’s games seem to have followed the same script. The Blues have often begun matches well, creating some half-decent chances but fail to make them count by showing a lack of clinicalness in front of goal. 

The intensity would often then die down just before half-time, inviting pressure from the opposition. Chelsea then struggle to regain their early momentum and consequently drop points.

With that being said, Potter’s side have arguably been pretty unfortunate in recent weeks with results often coming down to fine margins. 

Think back to Craig Dawson’s ‘handball’ in the dying minutes at the London Stadium? David Datro Fofana’s pivotal missed chance against Fulham at home? Or even Kalidou Koulibaly’s near equaliser at Signal Iduna Park in February? Things could have gone so differently for Chelsea had they taken their chances and had that extra luck on their side.

Since last week’s 2-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in north London, the game against Leeds had an all-or-nothing feel for Graham Potter, who was rumoured to have his job hanging in the balance should his team have lost. Despite the board’s backing, fans have become increasingly frustrated with the lack of results, which has made the football club the butt of all jokes.

Entering the game against Leeds, who beat Chelsea at Elland Road earlier in the season, Potter responded to the pressure by altering his formation to a 3-4-3. Focusing on the result alone, it was certainly a risk worth taking.

Potter has played a formation structured around a three-man defence previously in Europe – whilst preferring a four-man defence in Premier League games. It could be argued that is where we’ve seen the Blues play their best football this season; especially considering the two victories against AC Milan back in October.

Now, focusing on the task at hand on Tuesday. Borussia Dortmund will head to Stamford Bridge needing to avoid defeat if they’re to reach the last eight of Europe’s most elite competition. The German side are currently level with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga table after winning 11 consecutive games.

Despite Chelsea’s below-par form, they opened Dortmund up in the first leg and were unlucky to leave Germany as losers. The Blues will be boosted by the fact that Reece James is hoped to be available, while Christian Pulisic is confirmed to be available. The visitors, on the other hand, will be without a host of players that includes first leg goalscorer, Karim Adeyemi.

The formation and the team selection that Potter opts for both have huge question marks hanging over them heading into the game. What does remain a fact, however, is that progression at the Bridge on Tuesday night will be priceless for a club that has spent a mouth-watering sum over the past nine-months and that is looking to keep their European hopes alive this season.