Napoli v Chelsea, 7.45pm, TV3
John Terry will have surgery on his right knee after pulling out of tonight’s Champions League tie with Napoli.
The Chelsea defender was a doubt for the game having missed the last three weeks with the injury but trained in Italy last night in a bid to prove his fitness.
However, the 31-year-old was in pain when he woke up this morning and has been told he needs to have an operation – meaning the Blues and England will be without him for up to two months.
Serie A outfit Napoli host Chelsea at the San Paolo Stadium and, as Manchester City found out, will not be intimidated by Premier League opposition.
Walter Mazzarri’s side beat City 2-1 at the same venue back in November thanks to two goals from talisman Edison Cavani to finish ahead of the Citizens in Group A. The big Uruguayan is a handful at the best of times and has four goals in the Champions League this season.
Napoli had a 3-0 win over Fiorentina last weekend and while they may only be sixth in the league, are capable of competing with the best on their day.
Chelsea, meanwhile, are going through a rough patch right now. Speculation that manager Andre Villas Boas could be facing the sack is rife after failing to record a win in his last four league games. Elimination from Europe at this stage would probably be the last straw for owner Roman Ambramovich, who is notoriously impatient.
Ashley Cole is a doubt for tonight but Ramires and John Obi Mikel returned to action against Birmingham on the weekend and are available.
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported earlier today that a piece of paper with the Chelsea line-up had been found at the squad’s hotel.
Whether the Portuguese boss honestly left it behind or cunningly planted it (as reported) is unknown but it is most likely a fake as both Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres are absent.
The home side don’t have midfielder Eduardo Vargas in the squad because of a twisted knee and Hugo Campagnaro’s fitness is a concern. Mazzarri believes his side will need to put in a flawless performance if they are to get anything out of the game.
“We can get a result, though only if we are at our best. Merely having a special game won’t do; all the team need to have ‘the perfect game,” Mazzarri said on UEFA.com.
“It is important that Chelsea do not score here and it would be great if Napoli could.”
Napoli 13/10 Draw 11/5 Chelsea 9/4