Mata’s return is Chelsea’s best weapon at Steaua Bucharest

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Chelsea have flattered to deceive a little in the opening part of this season, but with three points the only prize worth taking in Romania, Jose Mourinho must reintroduce playmaker Juan Mata from the start.

A large part of Mourinho’s ‘reasoning’ for his seemingly inexplicable decision to keep Mata out of his Chelsea side this season, is that he required the silky Spaniard to prove to him that he was wrong to leave him out.

Well, anyone watching Chelsea’s second-half performance in their 1-1 draw with Tottenham, would have seen that Mata answered Mourinho unequivocally; that this was indeed the case.

Mata not only assisted the goal after coming on at half-time, but all Chelsea’s play flowed through the number 10 in the second half, as the visitors turned the game on its head until Fernando Torres’ stupid antics ensured a nervy finish.

Now, as Chelsea head to Romania for this vital Champions League game, where they’re 8/11 to get back on track with a win, the Portuguese manager must now wipe the egg from his face and include Mata in his line-up.

Mourinho’s decision has been aided somewhat by the news Eden Hazard has not made the plane through injury, meaning omitting Mata now would border on ludicrous.

The former Valencia man scored Chelsea’s first goal in the Europa League round-of-16 home leg against this opposition last season, and he’s an 8/1 shot to net the first of the game here.

However, many of the players will need no reminding of the toughness of the task at hand after tasting defeat in a disappointing 1-0 loss in Bucharest last season.

Chelsea can take heart from Steaua’s dismal home record in this competition though, having failed to win at home during their last three Champions League campaigns, taking in 10 matches in total.

Chelsea scoring 2/3 goals at 23/20 with Ladbrokes, looks another punt worthy of consideration as their four wins so far this season, have all witnessed the Blues score exactly twice.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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