Chelsea finally return to Champions League action for the first time in over a year as they face Azerbaijani side Qarabag on Tuesday.
After gaining a third consecutive win domestically against Leicester on Saturday, the Blues will look to increase their momentum by winning comfortably in Europe as we venture into a busy period of seven games in 21 days.
Due to the fact this will be Chelsea’s second game in four days, Antonio Conte has promised there will be changes to the starting line-up, with the likes of Andreas Christensen, Michy Batshuayi and new signing Davide Zappacosta all in contention to start.
However, Danny Drinkwater is unlikely to feature after a calf problem that prevented him from participating in training on Monday, and Eden Hazard will also start on the bench as he persists with attempting to return to full fitness as soon as possible.
Due to the quality of both Roma and Athletico Madrid, the other two sides in Chelsea’s Champions League group, the Blues will feel this is a must win game against Qarabag, and although there may be slight rotation to the squad, Conte will definitely field an extremely strong side as we look to get our European campaign of to the best possible start.
Here’s how we think Chelsea will line up on Tuesday evening.
GK – Thibaut Courtois
Although it was his sloppy mistake that nearly cost the Blues at the weekend, the Belgian is expected to start, and despite the fact he may not be as busy on Tuesday night, his presence and organisation will be pivotal once more.
RWB – Davide Zappacosta
In my opinion, this is the perfect game for the Italian to make his full debut for the club. The Blues are likely to have most of the ball, and this will give Zappacosta the chance to begin to build relationships with his new teammates on the pitch.
CB – Cesar Azpilicueta
This man has an engine, and his fitness levels mean he will be able to cope with the quick turnaround of games, and continue to dominate that right centre back position.
CB – Andreas Christensen
This youngster has so much potential, and after a sublime perfromance against Spurs, has not featured since. I expect Conte to give Christensen the chance he deserves.
CB – Gary Cahill
After being suspended for the last three matches, the captain will almost certainly be back in his usual left centre back position, fresh and ready to fight for his place in the side.
LWB – Marcos Alonso
Even though we have a tough schedule, the lack of depth in this position means for now, that Alonso will continue to start. Although, I would expect he will be given a rest for the League Cup tie next week.
CM – N’Golo Kante
This man does not need resting. His engine and sheer drive will ensure he continues to feature in most games in all competitions for Chelsea.
CM – Cesc Fabregas
He was taken off against Leicester, suggesting he will have a role to play against Qarabag, so I expect this midfield partnership on Tuesday night.
RW – Willian
He was unfortunate not to start against Leicester, but when he came on, he created chance after chance, and looked in fine form. He has definitely earned a starting place for me.
LW – Charly Musonda
Wwith Conte promising changes, it looks likely that the young Belgian winger will be awarded his Champions League debut. Musonda could be given his big chance.
ST – Alvaro Morata
He is in such fine form right now, and to drop him would be a big mistake. The side need him more than ever to continue scoring goals and increasing in confidence.