Chelsea will look to keep their momentum going as they host a rather unknown MOL Vidi FC side in the second Matchday of the UEFA Europa League.
Life under Maurizio Sarri has been a bit ‘easy’ thus far for Chelsea. The manager himself has been surprised by the immediate effect he has had at the club. The latest encouragement came against Liverpool, as the Blues dumped them from the Carabao Cup before playing out a 1-1 draw in the Premier League as well. Confidence is high within the Chelsea camp and Sarri will hope for another positive result.
MOL Vidi FC is a name not many would be aware of. Videoton though, as the club were formerly known, is a household name in the European scene. Vidi are the champions of Hungary and have started their Europa League campaign off with a forgetful performance in a 2-0 defeat to BATE Borisov.
Chelsea on the other hand, were unconvincing in their narrow 1-0 win over PAOK, with the club’s profligacy almost costing them. Maurizio Sarri would be hoping his side is ruthless in approach against Vidi, who will be hoping for better fortune against the Premier League outfit.
We now take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Maurizio Sarri should ring in the necessary changes in order to rest his key stars. The youngsters have not had much of a chance in the last couple of weeks but a few of them should be in contention to start on Thursday against Vidi.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Pedro and Andreas Christensen are all doubts. Loftus-Cheek is the one closest to returning to action but all the three players should ideally not be involved on Thursday. Davide Zappacosta and Emerson Palmieri are likely to come into the back four.
Gary Cahill should also be handed a start in defence. But, with Andreas Christensen unlikely to be involved in proceedings on Thursday, Antonio Rudiger should retain his place in back four.
Ross Barkley has impressed in the chances that have been provided to him. The English international should start in midfield. Ethan Ampadu should also be afforded a start while Cesc Fabregas will likely provide the creative impetus.
Victor Moses, Alvaro Morata and Callum Hudson-Odoi are all expected to come into the starting lineup. Maurizio Sarri surprised many by not handing Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu chances in the last couple of weeks but is unlikely to repeat it against Vidi.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; Zappacosta, Rudiger, Cahill, Emerson; Fabregas, Ampadu, Barkley; Moses, Morata, Hudson-Odoi
MOL Vidi FC
Vidi FC have a clean bill of health for the Thursday trip to face Chelsea. The manager is expected to name a side not too different from the one that lined up in the 2-0 defeat to BATE Borisov. Tomas Tujvel and the entire back four of Fiola, Vinicius, Juhasz and Stopira should be retained.
In what is the only potential change within the midfield, Mate Patkal should come in for 24-year-old Boban Nikolov, with Anel Hadzic and Loic Nego making up the numbers in midfield. Szabolcs Huszti scored during the weekend and should be rewarded with a start in place of Georgi Milanov.
Marko Scepovic is likely to retain his place upfront for Vidi FC. Marko Nikolic will set his side up likely on the counter, with hopes of putting pressure when not in possession, especially with Chelsea likely to name a fringe starting eleven on Thursday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-2-1): Tujvel; Fiola, Vinicius, Juhasz, Stopira; Nego, Hadzic, Patkal; Kovacs, Huszti; Scepovic
1. Vidi have failed to score in their last 3 UEFA Europa League matches.
2. Chelsea are yet to be defeated in the 2018-19 campaign in all competitions, except the inaugural fixture in the Community Shield.
3. Chelsea have failed to score just once in the 2018-19 season so far in all competitions, in a 0-0 draw with London rivals West Ham United.
4. Maurizio Sarri has tasted defeat just twice in 11 matches in the UEFA Europa League as a manager (9W).
5. Maurizio Sarri’s sides have failed to score just once in 11 appearances in the UEFA Europa League.
Player to Watch
A month and perhaps more, of frustration and profligacy for Alvaro Morata has seen him drop out of the starting eleven, with Olivier Giroud being preferred by Maurizio Sarri. But, his teammate has not managed to impress either, handing Morata a brilliant chance to regain his status as the first-choice striker at Chelsea.
Maurizio Sarri had publicly supported Alvaro Morata to come good in the pre-season. It’s time the Spaniard paid back on the manager’s faith.
Chelsea FC 2-0 MOL Vidi FC
While MOL Vidi FC will be expected to go up against a heavily rotated Chelsea side, Maurizio Sarri will be gunning for a win to continue the good work that has been done so far this season. The likes of Ethan Ampadu, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Victor Moses, Alvaro Morata and more will be eager to impress Sarri in hopes of improving their status within the first-team setup at Chelsea.
Expect a clean win for the hosts.