Andre VILLAS-BOAS has admitted he will have one eye on Chelsea’s Barclays Premier League showdown at Manchester United when he picks his team for tonight’s Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen.
Villas-Boas is planning to make changes for the Group E clash at Stamford Bridge in the midst of his biggest week since taking charge of the Blues more than two months ago.
“You’ll see some changes,” said the 33-year-old, who must decide whether to recall Fernando Torres to his attack and who will replace the suspended Ramires in midfield.
“Then we’ll make wise decisions for Sunday.”
Didier Drogba will once again miss out tonight as he continues his recovery from a head injury.
The striker was given another two days off this week and is looking more and more likely to sit out Sunday’s trip to Old Trafford.
Torres appeared a strong favourite to continue his run in the team before he lost his place for Saturday’s win at Sunderland and the misfiring striker’s misery deepened yesterday when it emerged Chelsea were probing an interview he gave in which he appeared to criticise his own team-mates.
The Spain forward claimed his comments were mistranslated, even though they appeared on his personal website.
Villas-Boas has yet to manage in the Champions League but has plenty of experience of it from his time on Jose Mourinho’s coaching staff.
History shows it can be vital for a team to win their group to go on and lift the trophy, but Villas-Boas said: “The competition is full of exceptions.
“I lived Porto’s experience and we managed to play all the second legs away from home and still qualified to win the Champions League in 2004.”
Tonight’s game will reunite Villas-Boas and Chelsea with former Stamford Bridge midfielder Michael Ballack.
Villas-Boas said: “He’s a player who represented a lot to us and represents a lot to Leverkusen.”
Ballack returned the compliment about the former Blues scout, who is a year younger than him.
He said: “It is not surprising that Chelsea always had their eye on him, he worked there before in the background and he did a lot of important stuff for Jose Mourinho.”