This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Chelsea’s next two fixtures in the Champions League will likely go a long way to deciding whether they will qualify for the knockout rounds.
Both matches will be against Ajax, who made it to the semi-finals of the competition last season before cruelly being knocked out in the last minute against Tottenham Hotspur. They currently top Group H, having scored six and conceded none in their first two games.
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The Blues, on paper, have been handed a boost for the clash at Stamford Bridge. UEFA have confirmed that no fans of the Amsterdam outfit will be allowed to attend the game in London following crowd violence in their match against Valencia earlier this month.
Some will think that this is a bonus for the Blues, with the famously vocal fans of the Dutch side unable to support their side. However, it may end up working against the south-west London outfit.
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If you look at some of the great European nights for English clubs, the fans tend to be buoyed by the songs and chants from their opponents’ fans. Would Anfield be anywhere near as loud if there were no away fans at their games? Would Celtic Park be as raucous if there were no supporters in the lower corner of the Lisbon Lions stands? One would think not.
English fans are pushed on by the rivalry with the opposition. You can argue whether it is sometimes too full of hate, but on the whole, it can push the home side as the crowd attempts to give that extra 10% to their team. It has worked in Chelsea’s favour, too. Many will remember the atmosphere against Napoli in 2012, for example.
With no Ajax fans on November 5th, there is a real danger that the Blues’ faithful may become slightly complacent, and it may take the fire out of the fans just that little bit. Of course, it will not feel like a home game for de Godenzonen, but the difference in atmosphere may be noticeable. If that is picked up by the players, as well, it may be the difference in them getting a positive result or not.