Chelsea's 2-0 win at Copenhagen in the first leg brings an unfortunate tinge of anticlimax to Wednesday's UEFA Champions League match at Stamford Bridge. Carlo Ancelotti has already admitted that he will be rotating his squad with an eye toward Sunday's match against Manchester City. That means Fernando Torres will not play, though that's the only decision the Italian would betray on Tuesday, most think Michael Essien will start on the bench.
But as you look at Chelsea's squad, there aren't a lot of places where changes seem probable. Perhaps we could see players like Salomon Kalou and Yuri Khirkov get rare starts, but David Luiz being cup-tied limits Ancelotti's options at the back. It's always difficult to imagine a healthy Frank Lampard being left out, and with Yossi Benayoun and Alex just returning from their long-term absences, the list of options is relatively thin. There aren't Manchester United or Arsenel-esque changes to be made.
Copenhagen are also unlikely to make significant changes, though one difference between Wednesday's match and the February 22 meeting will be preparedness. The first leg had the Danish champions playing their first meaningful match since December 7, a facet of the meeting that's since been overblown. Some hypothesized their poor showing against the Blues was a symptom of rust or lack of fitness, but Copenhagen had played six friendlies between the new year and the late February meeting. A better theory for the first leg's result: Chelsea is a better team.
Stale Solbakken, Copenhagen's manager, confesses his team needs something miraculous to happen. While the 43-year-old Norwegian is saying all the right things, cliches like (paraphrasing) the first goal will be crucial, there is a resignation to his tone - an implicit acknowledgment his team will need an element of luck.
Injuries and Suspensions
None of Chelsea's main contributors are dealing with injury concerns. Even the long-term absences of role players Yossi Benayoun and Alex have silver linings. Each could make the bench this weekend versus Manchester City. David Luiz is the only forced absence, cup-tied from this time with Benfica.
For Copenhagen, Zdenek Pospech will be suspended, meaning Solbakken may have to move Oscar Wendt to right back, bringing Pierre Bengtsson into the team on the left. Central defender Mikael Antonsson had been a doubt earlier this week, but the Swede is expected to start.
Chelsea, Starting XI: Cech / Bosingwa, Ivanovic, Terry, Cole / Ramires, Mikel, Lampard, Zhirkov / Kalou, Anelka; Bench: Turnbull, Ferriera, Sala, Malouda, McEachran, Essien, Drogba
Copenhagen, Starting XI: Wiland / Wendt, Antonsson, Hooiveld, Bengtsson / Bolanos, Claudemir, Kvist, Vingaard / Gronkjaer, N'Doye, Bench: Absalonsen, Bergvold, Kristensen, Zahore, Delaney, Christensen, Santin
No way to jazz this up: Chelsea 3, Copenhagen 0.