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Gianluca Vialli
"I am learning my trade"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 December, 1999, 23:36 GMT
Depleted Blues face night of destiny
Tore Andre Flo scores in Chelsea's 3-1 victory over Feyenoord Feyenoord were outclassed but Lazio are a different proposition


Chelsea could be without four key players when they attempt to overcome poor recent domestic form in their Champions League clash against Lazio.

Captain Dennis Wise, defenders Albert Ferrer and Marcel Desailly and midfielder Dan Petrescu are all doubtful for the tie in Rome.

The Blues' European campaign is developing huge significance after their dismal domestic decline, typified by Saturday's 4-1 defeat to Sunderland.


When you perform as poorly as we did on Saturday, you know as a manager you have done something wrong
Gianluca Vialli
Domestic form has even led Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli to question his own skills as a manager.

He told Radio 5 Live he was still learning his trade, saying that was the reason he was making more mistakes than managers like Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

"I haven't got great experience as a manager...when you perform as poorly as we did on Saturday, you know as a manager you have done something wrong," he said.

The two faces of Chelsea: Here, proving a point in the Champions League
With both Lazio and Chelsea having won their first second-round match, this clash is likely to settle the final outcome of the group.

The top two teams in each of the four second-round groups progress to the quarter-finals.

That would allow Vialli to continue to deflect criticism over the Blues' Premiership slump.

But, with most pundits writing eighth-placed Chelsea out of the league title-race, defeat would leave Vialli's season in ruins.

Wise, who scored the equaliser at AC Milan in October which took Chelsea into the second phase, played at Sunderland despite being sick on Friday night.

Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli will reassess his fitness before deciding on his starting line-up in the Italian capital.

.....and here, in the Premiership
Ferrer is recovering from a twisted ankle while Desailly was withdrawn from the game at Sunderland at half-time, apparently taking a kick on his calf in his horrendous first-half display.

Petrescu is still troubled by the back injury which forced him out of the game against Bradford.

All four players have travelled to Rome and will be assessed in Italy.

Striker Chris Sutton is suffering with a bout of flu but has travelled.

Group D
Chelsea - Pl.1 W.1 D.0 L.0 Pts.3
Lazio - Pl.1 W.1 D.0 L.0 Pts.3
Feyenoord - Pl.1 W.0 D.0 L.1 Pts.0
Marseille Pl.1 W.0 D.0 L.1 Pts. 0
Graeme Le Saux and Gabriel Ambrosetti are both still out along with Mario Melchiot, Mark Nicholls and Mickael Forsell, who have all remained in England.

Despite Chelsea's recent Premiership defeats, Lazio coach Sven Goran Eriksson has promised not to underestimate Vialli's men.

Eriksson is poised to line-up a five-man midfield in a bid to stifle the London side's passing game which overpowered Feyenoord a fortnight ago.

"The true Chelsea is not the team who lost so badly against Sunderland," said the Swedish coach.

"That team performed like we did in the derby (when Lazio were defeated 4-1 by Roma) and I am sure we will see the true English battling spirit against them."

Hot Chilean

The Rome side warmed up for Tuesday's encounter with a 2-0 victory over Perugia on Sunday, Sergio Conceicao and Marcelo Salas scoring the goals.

Chilean Salas is set to be employed as the lone striker with Vialli's former Sampdoria team-mate Roberto Mancini taking on a deeper role.

"My squad is perfect in terms of its mental, physical and tactical profile," said Eriksson.

"I have always said - even after the defeat against Roma - that Lazio will not forget how to be a good team."

Sinisa Mihajlovic, Dejan Stankovic and Giuseppe Pancaro all miss the match after each notched up their third yellow card in Lazio's 2-0 victory over Marseille.

Argentinian midfielder Diego Simeone is expected to start with Czech star Paolo Nedved rated doubtful.

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See also:
24 Nov 99 |  Champions League
Blues win Dutch mismatch
04 Dec 99 |  FA Carling Premiership
Chelsea shot down in flames
23 Nov 99 |  Champions League
Champions League group tables
Links to other Champions League stories are at the foot of the page.