N’Golo Kante and Hakim Ziyech ought to start while exit-linked Tammy Abraham is in contention as Chelsea take on Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup.
Chelsea will be aiming to kickstart their new season with a trophy when they lock horns with La Liga outfit Villarreal in the UEFA Super Cup at Windsor Park, Belfast on Wednesday night. Heading into the game, manager Thomas Tuchel does not have any major injury-related absences.
However, the likes of Mason Mount, Jorginho, Thiago Silva returned to pre-season training only a week ago after going far in their respective international tournaments and might not be risked. Speaking of such players in his pre-match press conference, Tuchel said, “We will see. They could certainly start but the question is can they finish the game, and I think honestly right now the answer is no.”
“They have had eight days of training in their legs and let’s be honest, a European final after just eight days is pretty demanding. It is too early for them to complete the 90 minutes at this level, so we have to find the right mix. Clearly the guys who came in early and have more minutes deserve to start.”
Edouard Mendy has been a regular fixture in goal and should feature from the get-go in Northern Ireland. Chelsea will line up in their trademark 3-4-2-1 setup under Tuchel against Villarreal. With Silva being one of those players who came back late, he might not be rushed back in. As a result, Kurt Zouma could get the nod at the heart of the three-man defence despite being linked with an exit.
Antonio Rudiger is pretty much guaranteed to feature on the Frenchman’s left, while captain Cesar Azpilicueta should take up the remaining centre-back slot, although Andreas Christensen and young Trevoh Chalobah are also options.
Callum Hudson-Odoi is likely to get a starting berth as the right wing-back ahead of Reece James who has returned to training only recently. On the opposite side, Marcos Alonso ought to edge out Ben Chilwell. While Jorginho is available for selection, both N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic have more minutes under their belt during the pre-season and should feature in the middle of the park.
Moving into the attacking third of the pitch, Mason Mount was also among the late returnees and could be used from the bench. That leaves Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic competing for the two attacking midfield slots. Havertz and Ziyech are likely to get the nod, however, with Pulisic likely to be used as an impact substitute if need be.
Finally, Timo Werner and Tammy Abraham will contest for the lone striker berth. The latter has been heavily linked with an exit this summer and while manager Tuchel acknowledged that his future is unclear, he did add that the Englishman is available for selection against Villarreal. Nonetheless, it is Werner who is expected to get the nod on Wednesday night.
Chelsea Predicted XI: Mendy, Azpilicueta, Zouma, Rudiger, Hudson-Odoi, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso, Ziyech, Havertz, Werner