By Ian Chadband and Ori Lewis
JOHN Terry believes Chelsea’s fortunes could be changing at a timely moment as the struggling English champions travel to Israel with the prospect of securing qualification for the knock-out stages of the Champions League.
The Blues’ captain was in upbeat mood after Chelsea’s 1-0 Premier League win over Norwich City on Saturday relieved some pressure on the London giants after their dismal start to the season.
Terry believes that the win could help reenergise their season, starting with a victory against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday (9.45pm) which would secure Chelsea’s qualification from Group G should Porto not lose to Dynamo Kiev on the same night.
“We have three points on the board now in the Premier League and switch focus to the Champions League again,” Terry told Chelsea TV. “With that in mind and the importance of qualifying it’s all there for everyone to go and do.
“We’re delighted to win. Relieved as well. Hopefully, we can put ourselves on a good run of games now and climb up this table. We can build on this now and hopefully get another win in the Champions League on Tuesday.”
The Norwich win, secured by a goal from the recently out-of-sorts Diego Costa, was only their fourth league victory from 13 games but they still lie 15th in the table with Jose Mourinho’s immediate future as manager still very much under the spotlight.
Qualification for the last 16 of the Champions League would represent further welcome respite and Maccabi, who are bottom of Group G without having picked up a single point in their four games, should hold few concerns.
The home side come into the match off a 3-0 away league win over Hapoel Haifa, which was played in the same stadium where Maccabi Tel Aviv host their European games. The victory moved them back to the top of the Israeli Premier League.
Yet they have found themselves out of their depth in the Champions League, at one point even fearing they might end their campaign without a single goal, let alone a point. Eran Zahavi’s penalty in the 3-1 home loss to Porto in their last match at least spared them that indignity.
The prolific Zahavi registered his 100th league goal at the weekend, also with a penalty, and he is their main hope to fashion an upset against the side which trounced them 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in September.