Bordeaux need a victory in Rome

A win against Cluj for Bordeaux could see Chelsea knocked out of group A, prompting speculation the Blues are cracking under pressure.


AFP - Luiz Felipe Scolari insists it won't be a disaster if Chelsea fail to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

Scolari's side need a win over CFR Cluj at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday to guarantee their progress into the last 16 of Europe's top club competition.

Chelsea have little margin for error as a draw or loss to the Romanian minnows would allow Bordeaux to knock out the Blues if the French team beat Roma.

It would be the first time the west London club have failed to qualify from the Champions League group stages and the damage to Scolari's reputation and long-term job prospects at the Bridge would be severe.

Just eight months after playing in the Champions League final, the Blues are on the brink of embarrassment. But Scolari is adamant he won't press the panic button if Chelsea, who have reached at least the semi-finals in three of the last four seasons, suffer an early exit.

"If we lose the game maybe we are out. It is possible. If I lose and I am out of the Champions League I won't feel good but not more than this," Scolari said. "This is life. This is football.

"It is one more game. It is important for our qualification for the next phase but it is the same as the other games. It is three points and we need to win for the second place.

"If we win we will be in a good situation in the next phase but it is not the most important game in the season."

Chelsea will be firm favourites to get the victory they need against a Cluj team already out of contention to qualify, but they could only draw in Romania earlier in the competition so Scolari could be forgiven for a sleepless night ahead of the make or break match.

His assistant Ray Wilkins hardly helped after Saturday's win over Bolton by admitting Scolari has been looking tired and stressed in recent days.

But the former Brazil coach was quick to reject suggestions he is starting to crack under the strain of Chelsea's pursuit of Premier League and Champions League success.

"You know how many people live in Brazil? 108 million. And I was coach there. You think there is pressure here?" he said.

"This is zero pressure. Pressure was when I was coach of the Brazil national team because all the people there are coaches."

With Chelsea's European future at stake, Scolari could opt to start Didier Drogba alongside Nicolas Anelka in Chelsea's attack for the first time in his reign.

A combination of injuries and suspension has kept Drogba sidelined for most of the season, but he is finally available at the same time as Anelka.

Anelka has 15 goals this season and Drogba just one, but Chelsea have sometimes looked toothless without the Ivory Coast battering ram and Scolari admitted he is keen to try them together as soon as possible.

"When I have time to train more with these two players, time to put them together and have confidence with my system I will do it," he said.

Scolari received a welcome boost in training on Tuesday as Joe Cole returned after an ankle injury.

Although the Blues boss has been irritated by a host of injuries to key players which have hampered Chelsea's progress, he is determined not to make his stars play through the pain barrier.

"It is not a mistake by any other people or medical staff. It is a normal life for the players," Scolari said. "When some players arrived here three or four years ago they played 60 games a year for Chelsea and the national team.

"After one or two years playing with little injuries they can get a bigger one. The players want to play for Chelsea and the national team. But I tell them not to play if they are not fit because when they are 60 they could have problems with their knees."

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