Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic are in contention to start as Chelsea go head to head with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.
Chelsea travel to Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday as they face Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. While new manager Thomas Tuchel has certainly turned around the fortunes of his new club since being appointed earlier in the campaign, this is going to be by far his biggest test.
Unfortunately for the German, he is still missing some key players including Thiago Silva.
‘This is a game that is certainly made for someone of Thiago’s quality but unfortunately, he is not available,’ explained Tuchel, during his pre-match press conference. “He is training right now, while we are leaving shortly.”
Silva’s absence points to a largely unchanged backline with just one change in the form of Andreas Christensen replacing Kurt Zouma. The Dane is hoping to renew his defensive partnership alongside Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger.
And while this may be a cup game, Edouardo Mendy is likely to get the nod ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga in between the sticks as Chelsea look to retain a clean sheet against a dangerous Atletico frontline lead by the mercurial Luis Suarez.
In the second line of press, Jorginho is likely to return in central midfield, at the expense of N’Golo Kante, although this is a kind of game where the Frenchman’s dynamism and work-ethic could have been useful. Mateo Kovacic, on the other hand, is a shoo-in as he renews his partnership with Jorginho in the double-pivot.
As for the right wingback slot, Atletico does like to overload the left-hand side with which means there will be added defensive pressure in this position. That is where Tuchel may want to consider giving Reece James the nod ahead of Callum Hudson-Odoi while Marcos Alonso hopes to continue on the opposite flank.
There were positive news elsewhere for Chelsea, as far as injuries are concerned, with Tuchel confirming the availability of former Bundesliga duo Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.
“I’m very happy that both Kai and Christian are in the group. They trained with us earlier and had no complaints. They will travel with us and they are in the squad for tomorrow.”, said the Germain on Monday.
These two, however, may have to wait for their opportunities as Tuchel looks to continue with Timo Werner and Mason Mount in the advanced role, just behind the main striker in Tammy Abraham. Both Pulisic and Havertz are viable alternatives, along with another new signing in Hakim Ziyech.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Werner, Abraham