I’m not too surprised with Chelsea not registering Ballack for the Champions League group stages – sure, he’s due to be fit for the last four games, but would take the same risk with any 31-year old midfielder (and not your best player in that position, mind you) who’s coming off a long-term injury and surgery?
Chelsea have been guilty of bringing injured players back far too quickly – in this case they are lucky to not need Ballack at this point in the season. Sidwell and Obi Mikel, not to mention Makelele, can do the job in most cases. And it’s not as if Chelsea are going to have a ‘tough’ time in the CL, are they?
Rosenborg and Schalke are hardly going to provide tough unsurmountable opposition, while Chelsea’s toughest game of the group stages, the away game against Valencia on Matchday 2 (October 3rd), comes 10 days before Ballack is expected to be fit for a bit-part role in Germany’s Euro 2008 qualifier (see 07/08 CL fixtures list and 07/08 group stage CL draw).
Chelsea have the squad depth to deal with Ballack’s absence in the Champions League, and in any case they need him in full flow for the winter crunch of games and in January and February when the club will be short of midfielders. Having Ballack well-rested and raring to go at that time can only be good for Chelsea.