Bayer Leverkusen v Chelsea: Match Preview

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Bayer Leverkusen v Chelsea
UEFA Champions League: Group E
Wednesday, 23rd November; 19:45

Team News

Bayer Leverkusen are sweating over the fitness of Andre Schurrie, who missed the weekend victory at Kaiserslautern.

Ex-Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack is set to make his 100th European appearance, and could do without wearing his protective facemask.

Chelsea have left out both Nicolas Anelka and Paulo Ferreira from their squad and are also without Romelu Lukaku who is ineligible and Michael Essien who is a long-term injury victim.

Villas-Boas backs defence

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas is backing David Luiz to emerge as one of the best defenders in the world despite his recent poor form.

The Brazilian centre-back's latest problems came against Liverpool on Sunday where his positional sense and distribution with the ball were found wanting.

However, on the eve of the club's crucial UEFA Champions League group game against Bayer Leverkusen, Villas-Boas is backing his star defender to return to his best form.

"David is an extremely good player," said the Portuguese tactician. "He's very quick, anticipates well and has amazing technical qualities.

"You don't usually get central defenders with his technical ability and talent, so he's an evolving central defender.

"He'll evolve into one of the best central defenders in the world."

Villas-Boas' opposite number Robin Dutt was eager to lend his backing to the 34-year-old, who has come under fire for his side's cavalier attitude this season, which has exposed their ageing back-line.

"He has achieved quite a lot with Porto and, if Chelsea pay 15 million euros for a coach, they must consider it worth it," he said.

"He's well respected, has made a good reputation, and his quality is there to see. He'll do well at Chelsea.

"I haven't seen major problems in Chelsea's defence," he added.

"(Branislav) Ivanovic is strong whether he plays at full-back or in the middle, and (David) Luiz hurt us a lot in the first game. We let him run and he scored a goal.

"They aren't 'weaknesses'. When you let in a lot of goals, it's down to the whole team, not individuals."

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