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High stakes for Blanc's Bordeaux

Buoyed by back-to-back successes against CFR 1907 Cluj, FC Girondins de Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc believes the momentum is with his side as they take on a Chelsea FC team beaten in Italy last time out.

Laurent Blanc says Chelsea 'need a result to avoid a nervy final game'
Laurent Blanc says Chelsea 'need a result to avoid a nervy final game' ©Getty Images

Few could have predicted that FC Girondins de Bordeaux and Chelsea FC would be separated by a single point with two matches remaining in Group A after their one-sided encounter in September. Laurent Blanc's charges were comprehensively beaten at Stamford Bridge, succumbing 4-0 to last season's UEFA Champions League finalists, before suffering an equally demoralising 3-1 home reverse against AS Roma.

'Psychological advantage'
Yet back-to-back successes over CFR 1907 Cluj have restored confidence, and with Chelsea tasting defeat in Italy last time out, Blanc believes the momentum is with the French team. "Chelsea probably thought they'd have their qualification secured by the time they arrived in Bordeaux," the 43-year-old coach said. "They didn't expect to lose in Rome and now they need a result to avoid a nervy final game. The stakes are high for both teams but we may have a psychological advantage."

'Big game'
Blanc's coaching skills have impressed many over the last year, although he claims his role for this particular fixture is limited. "It's an easy match to prepare for," explained the former France captain, whose side have fallen to sixth in Ligue 1 after winning one of their last four games. "I don't need to say anything to motivate my players because it's such a big game they're already up for it. If I tell them to study the Chelsea players' strengths, it'll just give them a headache."

CFR example
Bordeaux have nevertheless been warned against affording their opponents space, with Blanc urging them to follow CFR's lead from Matchday 2, when they held the Londoners at home: "We saw the way Chelsea struggled to break down CFR. They had plenty of the ball but the game ended 0-0 because CFR defended well and denied Chelsea room to play in. We'll have to do the same."

Scolari pledge
With only three points between the group's four contenders, a draw would maintain both Bordeaux and Chelsea's challenges, yet Luiz Felipe Scolari is setting his sights firmly on a first European away win as Blues manager. "We missed one chance to qualify against Roma [losing 3-1]. This is our second chance. Neither me nor my players intend to wait for a third opportunity. Tomorrow is the day," stressed the former Brazil and Portugal boss.

Contrasting form
In contrast to their away form in the Premier League, where they are still to drop a point after seven matches, Chelsea have struggled abroad so far this term. Scolari rejected the notion his side are better equipped for English football. "What you need to understand is that in the Champions League we play the best teams in Europe," said the 60-year-old, who is without the suspended Deco, long-term absentee Michael Essien, and injured defenders Ricardo Carvalho, Alex and Juliano Belletti.

Ballack fit
Scolari can, however, call upon a fit-again Michael Ballack and is determined to see his team seize the initiative and test Les Marine et Blanc's inexperienced goalkeeper Matthieu Valverde, who will continue to deputise for the injured Ulrich Ramé. "It's very important because we are through if we win," he said. "Bordeaux have good players and they're in good shape. They have six points, we have seven. It's not a big difference."