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Fiji Time: 8:37 PM on Thursday 24 April

/ Front page / Sport

History looms for Chelsea

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Wednesday, December 05, 2012

PARIS - Defending champions Chelsea face the ignominy of becoming the first titleholders to fail to advance to the Champions League knockout stage as the final round of group fixtures takes place tomorrow.

A comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Juventus a fortnight ago left Chelsea's title defence hanging by a thread and the Blues' destiny out of their hands, as a draw between Group E frontrunners Shakhtar Donetsk and Juventus in Ukraine would consign Rafa Benitez's side to the Europa League.

The pressure is mounting on Benitez after an inauspicious start as Chelsea manager following his appointment in the wake of Roberto di Matteo's dismissal, with the team yet to win under the Spaniard and the fans quickly losing patience.

"We have to improve on the pitch and the fans will be happy," said Benitez following Chelsea's 3-1 defeat at West Ham on Sunday.