Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: 16 April 2016
Referee: Mike Jones
Kick off: 17:30
There was a time not long ago when Belgium’s finest export since Stella Artois was maturing like Limburger on Chelsea’s bench. While Eden Hazard was dismembering Premier League defences on the field, Kevin De Bruyne was sat picking his finger nails, his bottom firmly pressed against his reserved seat in the dugout.
Fours years on and we now see Hazard occupying that space. He and Chelsea have had atrocious campaigns after winning the title so convincingly last term – Hazard has contributed to only three of his side’s 49 league goals this season – while De Bruyne has helped us to Capital One Cup glory and a Champions League semi final with 14 assists and 15 goals in all competitions. As per the delightful panel on BT Sport, the average football fan may find it ‘hard’ to watch City playing well, but I doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t enjoyed watching Kev in what essentially has been his debut season in England.
If you read the Daily Mirror, however, he’s a ‘£60m flop’. Not that he’s arsed. He doesn’t seem to be arsed about much, in truth. Kevin has bigger fish to fry, Real Madrid being one of them.
I’ve got to say that while there was never going to be an easy draw, Real Madrid are probably the most beatable of the three sides we could have met. Atletico are incredibly difficult to break down and Bayern Munich notoriously go from being Volkswagen Golfs in the group stages to Porsche 911 Carerras in the knockout stages. We’ve beaten the Germans before but only in games that didn’t really matter to them. As for Madrid, Wolfsburg proved how porous their defence can be in the first leg of their 3-2 quarter final loss to the Spaniards and in the round before that, Roma missed a handful of sitters that could have sent them through. One small thing, though: Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s a knob, but he’s a knob who’s capable of winning games on his own.
In previous seasons, Saturday’s fixture would have been a blockbuster title clash on Sky Sports. This season, though, has been unusual to say the least and Chelsea’s fall from grace has been as befuddling as Leicester’s rise to the top. This weekend then will be a clash between two teams that have severely under-performed. But don’t let them fool you, Manuel and the lads will seek a win at Stamford Bridge after Manchester United all but relegate Aston Villa, and you’d think a win there would all but secure us that spot in the top four.
Vincent Kompany and Raheem Sterling are edging closer to full fitness but are likely to return to the side on Tuesday. Samir Nasri is expected to feature in the starting XI after impressing against West Brom last weekend.
Diego Costa is back and will wriggle his back into the warmth of Eliaquim Mangala’s pocket after completing his three-match suspension while John Terry, Eden Hazard and Loic Remy remain sidelined with injuries.
Nemanja Matic and Gary Cahill are available for selection again after returning to fitness.
Chelsea have very little to play for and I fancy us. I’ll go for a 2-1.
Predict the score:
[statsfc-score-predictor key=”D8SJIk7F6vySBuDaFQRSHy11xfbyCt18uXRinj2b” team=”Man City” date=”2016-04-16″ default_css=”true”]