Tito Costa, Jonas, Mathieu & Soldado - the Valencia stars who could knock Chelsea out of the Champions League

Andre Villas-Boas' men host the Spanish outfit with their future in the competition still hanging in the balance, and Unai Emery's side have the quality to put them to the sword
By Jonathan Birchall, Ben Hayward and Roger Gonzalez

The fact that David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata have all left Valencia over the last two years only serves to highlight the club's ability to roll with the punches, and when the Mestalla outfit travel to Chelsea with the sides level on points in Champions League Group E, they'll feel confident of delivering a knockout blow.

It is a case of winner takes all at Stamford Bridge with both teams trailing group leaders Bayer Leverkusen by a point and despite Chelsea taking tentative steps back towards stability with two consecutive Premier League wins, Unai Emery's men will no doubt look to pounce on any nerves swirling around west London.

Andre Villas-Boas is already well aware of the threat that the visitors pose despite their recent illustrious departees, with the 1-1 draw between the teams in Spain a tight affair, despite a number of chances from the English side and a quite magnificent goalkeeping display from Diego Alves.

But who are the danger men that Chelsea must pay particular attention to? Goal.com have picked out four of Valencia's best ahead of what could be a spectacular tie at Stamford Bridge.

TINO COSTA | Midfielder
Goals Goals per game
Assists per game
 11 4
 0.36 3
Tino Costa moved to Mestalla from Montpellier in the summer of 2010 and marked his arrival in Champions League football with a quite stunning strike against Bursaspor on his debut in Europe's premier club competition, lashing the ball into the net with a fierce left-footed drive from fully 30 yards out to open the scoring in a comfortable 4-0 win in Turkey.

Technically gifted, with an eye for goal and the ability to spray the ball all over the park from a central role, the Argentine midfielder has come on in his second season at Valencia, helping Emery's side make light of the absence of his injured compatriot Ever Banega while benefiting in a more fluid passing game through the middle.

Now playing to his potential and making the most of his opportunities, Tino is still improving at the age of just 24 and is a man in form, too, coming into the Chelsea match with two key goals, including one penaltym in his last two matches.

JONAS | Striker
    Appearances    Goals Goals per game   Assists Assists per game
 16 4
 0.25 5
The forward thought he had scored the fastest goal in Champions League history earlier in the competition when he netted after just 10.5 seconds against Bayer Levekusen. But the 27-year-old was later informed by Uefa that his was in fact second on the list behind former Dutch striker Roy Makaay, who netted in just 10.12 seconds for Bayern Munich against Real Madrid in 2007. "No matter," said Jonas. "I'll scored in nine seconds against Chelsea."

That seems unlikely but the Brazilian has impressed since joining from Gremio for a cut-price €1.25 million (£1.07m) last January and looks increasingly comfortable in the Valencia lineup. Not flashy, but always efficient, the former Santos striker has been a welcome addition at Mestalla with his clever range of passing and ability to score at important times.

He brings the best out of Roberto Soldado and the duo have formed a fearsome frontline for the Spanish club this term. International recognition with Brazil has followed and the goals are flying in, too. With three already in this season's competition, he is clearly a man for Chelsea to watch - and not just for the first 10 seconds.

    Appearances    Goals Goals per game   Assists Assists per game
 16 0
 0 3
Due to the exciting emergence of Jordi Alba at left-back, Emery has pushed Jeremy Mathieu into an advanced role in midfield this season - and it has worked superbly. The flying Frenchman tore Barcelona apart at times as the Catalans struggled in a one-sided first half at Mestalla earlier on in the campaign, pushing Dani Alves back deep and taking advantage of the huge spaces behind the Brazilian in a game which eventually finished 2-2.

What Mathieu lacks in technical ability, he more than makes up for with his pace down the flank and his objective is clear: set up Soldado. Now a full international with Les Bleus, the Frenchman in full flight is very hard to stop and his strength and stamina along with his pace and physical presence could cause concern for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

    Appearances    Goals Goals per game   Assists Assists per game
 19 14
 0.73 1
Of all the Valencia players, the man to fear above any other is Roberto Soldado. The former Real Madrid striker has been quite the alchemist for his team this term - everything he touches turns to gold.

Down 3-1 at home to Racing Santander in the opening fixture of the season, Soldado struck twice at the death to hammer a hat-trick and secure an unlikely 4-3 success for his side. And he was the hero again at the weekend, stepping off the bench with just under a quarter of an hour left to head the winner - having been on the pitch for only four minutes - in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Espanyol.

There was a brace against Madrid, too, as Valencia were desperately unlucky not to take a point at home to Jose Mourinho's men last month, while five goals from five in the Champions League - and 14 in total this season - tell their own story. And although he is still pushing for a place in the Spain squad, Soldado has other things on his mind right now. "We have to hit the heights on Tuesday," he said. "We are dreaming of a win in London." And if Chelsea's defenders are not fully focused on the night, those dreams could turn into nightmares for the Blues.

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