EPL: Can Rafa Benitez help Chelsea regain top form?

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London, Nov 22: Chelsea are nearly out of the UEFA Champions League, following the 3-0 defeat to Juventus and dropped points in the Premier League while manager Roberto Di Matteo was sacked and Rafa Benitez was appointed as interim manager on Thursday.

The defending champions need other results to go their way, meaning Shakhtar Donetsk, who qualified, have to beat Juventus in the final group stage game on match day 6.

Can Chelsea stay on top after poor form?

The humiliating defeat at the Juventus Stadium witnessed Roberto Di Matteo sacked just six months after taking over Chelsea. In case the Londoners crash out of the Champions League, they will create history by becoming the only holders to crash out of the competition in the group stages.

The axe was expected after owner Roman Abramovich was furious after Chelsea gave away a two-goal lead on matchday 1 while the Blues failed to stay on top of the Premier League after the controversial loss to Manchester United at home.

Abramovich, who has his own way of handling things with Chelsea after firing eight managers since 2003, repeatedly asked Di Matteo to play £50 million striker Fernando Torres, but the Italian decided to bench the Spanish striker after his dismal display in the 2-1 loss at the Hawthorns.

Di Matteo, who reguarly started Torres upfront but failed to find the right combination with attacking trio of Juan Mata, Oscar and Eden hazard, went for an unusual line-up against the Italian giants, even without playing a striker. Chelsea were caught on the break with Juve making clever defence-spliting passes but failed to challenge or create any clear chances in the attacking third.

Meanwhile, Benitez has been known to be obsessed with organisation prior to a game and no other manager can match the Spaniards tactical and strategic planning.

The 52-year old has several highlights in his career, especially against Chelsea after winning the 2005 and 2007 semi-final in the UEFA Champions League along with the 2006 FA Cup.

Abramovich has certainly thought about those drawbacks before appointing Benitez as caretaker manager. With the Spaniard in, expect Torres to spearhead Chelsea's attack while their defence needs minor changes after David Luiz's performance against West Brom and Juve.

But what Chelsea actually need is that confidence which Di Matteo regained after the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. Though the Blues finished sixth in the Premier League, they won their first Champions League trophy, but are currently facing their toughest week in the campaign with a home game against league champions Manchester City. Can Benitez bring back the Blues' deadly form and regain confidence in the dressing room?

OneIndia News

Story first published: Thursday, November 22, 2012, 19:01 [IST]
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