Champions League preview: Chelsea width could unsettle Napoli, Real test for Doumbia

ZonalMarking.net's Michael Cox uses the StatsZone app – from FFT and Opta, available now – to preview Tuesday night's Champions League action... 

Chelsea’s trip to Naples presents an interesting tactical battle between the home side’s back three, and the away side’s front three. This is not a situation Napoli are particularly used to in Serie A, with few Italian sides playing with genuine width, though coach Walter Mazzarri is more than accustomed to changing his formation slightly according to the opponent.

Mazzarri probably won’t want to keep three against three at the back because of the lack of cover, so is more likely to drop his wing-backs towards their own goal, to make a five against three situation. That will mean Napoli are outnumbered in midfield, but they’ll probably be happy enough to allow Chelsea time on the ball, and focus on counter-attacking.

It will also be interesting to see how Chelsea play without the ball – whether they use their three forwards to press Napoli’s back three, or whether they stand off more. Andre Villas-Boas should be well aware that it’s Hugo Campagnaro, the right-sided centre-back, rather than the left-footed Salvatore Aronica, who offers more going forward.

Tuesday’s early kick-off sees Real Madrid making the long journey to Moscow to take on CSKA, where Jose Mourinho’s men will be up against Seydou Doumbia, one of the in-form strikers in the Champions League so far. He’s notched five goals from his five starts, though he blotted his copybook with a red card away at Trabzonspor, meaning he was suspended for the home defeat to Lille.

As a powerful Ivorian forward, comparisons to Didier Drogba are inevitable, but Doumbia does share a good all-round game with the Chelsea striker. In his game against Lille, he receives the majority of passes in the centre of the pitch, often after long balls. But his positions of take-ons shows he can drift wide and beat his man.

It will be interesting to see whether his style changes after CSKA sold his strike partner Vagner Love to Flamengo. With no obvious replacement, Doumbia might have to get through more work upfront.

Wednesday's preview: Narrow Basel to squeeze out Bayern, Marseille seek home comfort

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