Napoli block the way to redemption for Andre Villas-Boas and Chelsea in the Champions League

February 18th, 2012

Driving force: Chelsea must be alert to the danger posed by Napoli striker Edinson Cavani

There are fewer more daunting away venues to negotiate; the atmosphere in the vicoli that thread their way through the city will build all day on Tuesday, before overflowing in the Stadio San Paolo when Chelsea emerge from the tunnel to face a wall of sound.

This Napoli game is loaded for many reasons. Villas-Boas will be under intense scrutiny. Firstly there is the competition itself. For Abramovich the Champions League has always been the trophy he has most craved – this was the competition that seduced him into buying a football club in the first place, visions of the glamour games in Milan, Madrid, Munich and Barcelona.

This emphasis on European nights can make them points of unbearable pressure for the manager. Abramovich often attends these games and brings guests with him. These are not occasions on which to underwhelm; men likes Abramovich do not like being embarrassed.

This emphasis on the Champions League is something that has been clear in his treatment of his managers. Claudio Ranieri was finished after he committed tactical suicide in the semi-final against Monaco in Abramovich’s first season after buying the club.

Jose Mourinho brought incredible domestic success to the club but could not crack it in the Champions League, twice being beaten by Liverpool in the semi-final. When he did go, it came after a dire performance in the 1-1 draw with Rosenborg in the 2007-08 group stages.

Source: The Telegraph

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