Leverkusen boss praises Villas-Boas


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Bayer Leverkusen boss Robin Dutt today backed Andre Villas-Boas to get it right at Chelsea before vowing to pile the pressure on his opposite number tomorrow.

Dutt's men host Villas-Boas' under-fire Blues in a crunch Champions League clash at the BayArena which could see the winners seal a place in the knockout phase.

Chelsea could hardly be heading to Germany in worse shape, having made their poorest start to a season since Roman Abramovich bought the club eight years ago.

Villas-Boas is already answering questions over whether his job is safe but he claimed after Sunday's Barclays Premier League defeat to Liverpool that Russian billionaire Abramovich would not have paid £13.3million to prise him from Porto only to sack him months later.

Those sentiments were echoed this afternoon by Dutt, who said: "He has achieved quite a lot with Porto and, if Chelsea pay 15 million euros for a coach, they must consider it worth it.

"He's well respected, has made a good reputation, and his quality is there to see. He'll do well at Chelsea."

Leverkusen can only dream of paying £13million for a manager or £50million for a striker, as Chelsea have done in 2011.

Dutt said: "The finances in England are completely different to over here, and Schalke reaching the semi-finals (last season) was a huge achievement.

"In Germany, the game's more efficiently run. Chelsea have a 'world' squad. We have to beat the money tomorrow."

Leverkusen, who lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge in September's Group E opener, will never have a better chance against a Chelsea side who have looked in disarray in recent weeks.

Dutt played down Villas-Boas' defensive woes, saying: "I haven't seen major problems in Chelsea's defence.

"(Branislav) Ivanovic is strong whether he plays at full-back or in the middle, and (David) Luiz hurt us a lot in the first game. We let him run and he scored a goal.

"They aren't 'weaknesses'. When you let in a lot of goals, it's down to the whole team, not individuals."

Yet, he added: "We know that Chelsea really aren't doing that well at the moment. They've dropped points recently.

"That doesn't make them any worse - we have respect for their players - but they're under certain pressure, too.

"We're hoping to perform and secure a win tomorrow. I believe that my lads can do this."

No one would enjoy piling on the misery for Chelsea more than Michael Ballack, who was jettisoned by the club 18 months ago.

The Leverkusen midfielder has been wearing a protective mask this month after breaking his nose but has shrugged off the injury in typical fashion.

Dutt said: "The way he's played in the last few matches and months, he's incredibly important. There's no question about that.

"In our team, there is hardly anyone who has played in the Champions League.

"For most players, it's new territory. It's good to have an experienced player in form.

"He's not affected by the mask - he doesn't wear it in training, so we'll decide tomorrow whether or not he'll wear it."

Alongside Ballack in midfield will be Leverkusen youngster Lars Bender, who was unfazed about the prospect of facing Chelsea's star-studded squad.

"They've got high-quality players everywhere but we saw in the first game that we can hold our own," he said.

"It would have been totally different if we'd scored that first goal. But we showed we can compete.

"We've got a very big chance and, if you have a chance like that on your own turf, you have to use it."