Todd Boehly boldly predicted a 3-0 win for Chelsea in last week’s Champions League quarterfinals first leg against Real Madrid.
Now the club’s American co-owner must hope for a victory of at least that margin when the teams meet again on Tuesday.
Anything less and Chelsea’s troubled season will take another turn for the worse.
The Champions League represents the London side’s last hope of a trophy in its first year under the ownership of Boehly and Clearlake Capital and likely its last chance of qualifying for the league next season.
Boehly’s prediction last week, when approached on a Madrid street, was well off the mark and in keeping with a campaign in which little has worked out for Chelsea.
Goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Arsensio put Madrid in control of the matchup, and it would take an incredible turnaround at Stamford Bridge to prevent the defending champions from advancing to the semifinals for the 11th time in 13 seasons.
But Chelsea has shown little signs of producing the type of performance required to eliminate the 14-times winners.
Since Boehly and Clearlake bought out Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich last year in a deal worth about $3 billion, they have fired two managers and spent around $630 million on a squad that still looks imbalanced and lacks a prolific goal-scorer.
Left unimpressed have been fans of a club that won every major trophy under Abramovich including the Champions League in 2021.
Boehly was pictured in conversation with one fan in the crowd at Stamford Bridge on Saturday when Chelsea’s latest setback was losing to Brighton 2-1.
“Fans show passion,” interim manager Frank Lampard said on Monday. “I don’t think the ownership or anybody would come and be involved at Chelsea and expect anything else than complete passion for wanting this club to do well.
“We’ve been fortunate enough to have been very successful for a lot of years, the last 20 years or so, which means you want more of it.”
After reports Boehly entered the locker room after the Brighton loss, Lampard said he was comfortable with the owner addressing the players after games.
“When an owner is very invested in the team and wants to help and improve, it’s his prerogative to have the input that they want,” he said.
Lampard has not provided a lift in form since replacing Graham Potter at the start of the month. Chelsea has lost all three of his games in charge and scored just once.
That is not the type of run that suggests a comeback against Madrid is on the cards.
Not that Lampard could say that when he tried to lift spirits ahead of the game.
“Anything is possible in football and there’s no doubt that we’re a competitive team and we deserve to be here in this stage of the competition,” he said. “We also understand that the opponent is really high level, but if we get things right, if we work hard, if we do the right things in the game, then anything is possible.”
While Chelsea fell to Brighton, Madrid won at Cadiz 2-0 in a game in which coach Carlo Ancelotti was able to rotate the squad and keep most of his key players fresh for the Champions League.
Vinícius Júnior and Toni Kroos didn’t play against Cadiz, while Rodrygo and Luka Modric were in action for less than 90 minutes. Benzema was among the few who played a full game.
James Robson is at https://twitter.com/jamesalanrobson
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.