Chelsea face a serious test on Wednesday as Juan Mata returns home to the Mestalla to face Valencia
Unai Emery and Andre Villas-Boas have had a bit of a minor love-fest in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League match between Chelsea and Valencia, which is literally no fun at all. Where's the trash talk and mind games? All this respect is making me nauseous.
Both teams have had some very good and some disappointing results this season, and this match should be a good test for both squads as they try to prove their credentials for this competition and their domestic leagues. Valencia recently suffered a loss to Sevilla after three wins and a credible draw against Barcelona, while Chelsea have had very good results outside of their loss to Manchester United.
Chelsea and Valencia are both going to have serious selection dilemmas going into this match, which isn't exactly a bad problem to have. Both teams have a good deal of depth and both managers are excellent tacticians, so the possibilities for this game are fairly endless. Most likely, the teams will both play with one central striker, a double pivot, and at least one wide player who is not really a wide player, but nothing is for certain. Emery's shown a willingness to go with a 4-4-2, while Villas-Boas has shown a willingness to go with one deep-sitting midfielder.
Emery hasn't revealed his injury news, which is probably designed to screw with writers (hi Mr. Emery!) than it is to screw with Villas-Boas. The game against Sevilla didn't feature any obvious injuries, and it seems like all of the players who played in that match should be fit to face Chelsea. Jonas and Aritz Aduriz started over Sergio Canales and Roberto Soldado, so it seems likely that Emery was resting the latter two for the match against Chelsea.
Of course, this is also Juan Mata's return to the Mestalla, which is a nice little storyline. If the receptions that David Villa have received are any indication, he'll be cheered and there should be multiple signs and banners supporting him. Valencia fans seem to realize their current financial reality, and none of Mata, Villa or David Silva ever demanded to leave the club. The timing of the building of the New Mestalla and the real estate collapse of 2008 caused serious financial problems for Valencia that they haven't recovered from, and it's incredible that they continue to field such a strong team every year.
Valencia vs. Chelsea
Time: 7:45 pm BST, 8:45 pm CEST, 2:45 pm local
Venue: Mestalla, Valencia, Spain
TV: ITV (UK), Fox Soccer Channel (USA), ESPN (Australia)
Online: UEFA.com (International)
Projected Chelsea lineup (4-3-3): Cech; Cole, Terry, Luiz, Ivanovic; Meireles, Ramires, Lampard; Mata, Sturridge, Torres
Projected Valencia lineup (4-2-3-1): Guaita; Mathieu, Rami, Ruiz, Bruno; Topal, Banega; Alba, Canales, Pablo; Soldado
We'll have live coverage of Valencia vs. Chelsea right here at SB Nation. For more on Chelsea FC, check out SB Nation's Chelsea blog We Ain't Got No History. For more on all of the Champions League fixtures and world football in general, head over to SB Nation Soccer.