|Lionel Messi during a practice session in Moscow
London: Holders Chelsea need to show the resilience that brought them success last season, rather than the recent failings they have shown in the Premier League, if they want to reach the last 16 of the Champions League this week.
Chelsea will go through on Tuesday if they win their Group E match against Juventus in Turin, sealing their place in the last 16 for a 10th successive season.
But Roberto Di Matteo’s men travel without a win in their last four Premier League games and reeling from a surprise 2-1 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday when defensive lapses cost them the points.
“For some unknown reason November seems to be a bad month for us,” the Italian told reporters.
No European champions have failed to get through a group stage since the Champions League began but if Chelsea lose in Turin they will be in danger of becoming the first to do so.
Chelsea’s most important victory in recent weeks came two weeks ago when they beat Shakhtar 3-2 at Stamford Bridge with a last-gasp header from Victor Moses sealing the points and making qualification more likely.
A match in Lisbon also evokes memories of the 1960s when Celtic became the first British club to lift the European Cup.
Celtic scored one of the upsets of the season when they beat favourites Barcelona 2-1 at Parkhead two weeks ago but Barca still top Group G with nine points. Celtic are second on seven, three clear of Benfica and four ahead of Spartak Moscow.
Celtic beat Inter Milan to win the 1967 final at the rarely-used National Stadium, but if they win Tuesday’s match at Benfica’s Stadium of Light they will have cause for more celebrations in the Portuguese capital having secured a definite place in the knockout round.
Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney could be one of the few big names to start for United at Galatasaray after recovering from tonsillitis.
The England striker missed the 1-0 loss to Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday, but was back in training on Monday before United flew out to Istanbul seeking a fifth straight win in Group H.
With first place in the group already secured, United coach Alex Ferguson has the opportunity to rest the team’s top players with Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand unlikely to feature. Ferguson, though, hinted Rooney would play if he returned to training. It’s a far cry from last season’s struggles in the competition, when the three-time winners surprisingly failed to reach the knock-out stage.
“It is a happier place because of what we are doing in the Champions League,” United midfielder Michael Carrick said. “Last year we were chasing our tails a bit and came up short. This year we have been ahead of the game.
“Getting those wins and points on the board makes it an awful lot easier.”
United’s position gives Galatasaray a better chance of a win that would keep the Turkish team in second place and favourite to qualify with United. Cluj host Braga in the other group match, with the three teams below United separated by only one point.