Chelsea have a comfortable lead from the first leg to defend as they travel to Ukraine to take on Dynamo Kyiv in a Round of 16 tie in the UEFA Europa League.
Fortunes have taken a turn for the positive for Chelsea, or so it seemed. The Blues had returned to winning form but their latest Premier League fixture brought them back down in a rather disappointing 1-1 draw against Wolves. The result sees them fail to capitalise on Manchester United losing to Arsenal and remain in sixth, for the time being at least.
Chelsea have one good thing to look forward to, playing a Quarter-Final in Europe, with the Blues holding a 3-0 advantage coming into the second leg. Dynamo Kyiv on the other hand, will be disappointed with the first leg encounter, having let in 3 goals without really troubling Chelsea.
While things may have not gone to expectations, Dynamo Kyiv can take heart from the magnanimous comebacks in the Champions League from the likes of Ajax, FC Porto, Manchester United and Juventus. Ahead of their crunch second leg tie against Chelsea, we take a look at the two squads.
Team News & Tactics
Vitaliy Buyalskiy is suspended after having received a yellow card in the first leg against Chelsea. But, there is good news as Benjamin Verbic returns after serving his own suspension. Verbic will take his place in the starting eleven again, replacing Buyalskiy, who is injured. There are unlikely to be any more changes to the starting eleven that faced Chelsea away.
The back four of Tomasz Kedziora, Mykyta Burda, Artem Shabanov and Vitaliy Mykolenko will hope to do much better than they did last Thursday. Denys Harmash scored twice against Arsenal Kiev in between the two legs and could be afforded a chance up top, where he will replace Nazariy Rusyn, who has been the preferred choice so far for Dynamo Kyiv.
It will be a toss between the two but Rusyn should prevail.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Boyko; Kedziora, Burda, Shabanov, Mykolenko; Shepelev, Sydorchuk; Tsygankov, Shaparenko, Verbic; Rusyn
Maurizio Sarri will be wary of the threat of a potential comeback and is likely to field an eleven strong enough to avoid it at all costs. The back four from the first leg should be retained in large, with Davide Zappacosta, Andreas Christensen, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso starting in front of Willy Caballero, who should be the man in goal for Chelsea.
While Ross Barkley is not a key player, the midfielder is one yellow card away from accruing a suspension and is unlikely to be risked on Thursday. But, we could see Ruben Loftus-Cheek start after a couple of underwhelming performances from Mateo Kovacic.
Jorginho should be handed a rest, with Ethan Ampadu playing his role at the base, with N’Golo Kante adding experience to the midfield.
The attack should finally have Callum Hudson-Odoi. The winger seems to have been neglected from team selection, to an extent. But, he should get a chance to shine on Thursday against Dynamo Kyiv. Gonzalo Higuain has not travelled with the squad, which means Olivier Giroud should start upfront, with Pedro likely to retain his spot on the right.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Caballero; Zappacosta, Luiz, Christensen, Alonso; Kante, Ampadu, Loftus-Cheek; Pedro, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi
1. While Chelsea have scored in their last two away games, they failed to score in four consecutive away fixtures leading up to the two wherein they did score.
2. Chelsea have scored in all four of their away ties in the UEFA Europa League this season so far.
3. Dynamo Kyiv have scored a total of 9 goals in their last 2 home games in all competitions.
4. Eden Hazard is yet to register a goal or an assist in the UEFA Europa League this season. Although, he has played just 117 minutes in the competition.
5. Olivier Giroud is one goal behind current UEFA Europa League joint-top scorers Munas Dabbur and Wissam Ben Yedder.
Player to Watch
The midfielder has been in and out of favour under Maurizio Sarri so far. But, with the likes of Ross Barkley and Mateo Kovacic not really shining and stepping up when needed, Loftus-Cheek could become the third central midfielder for Sarri, at least until the end of the season.
Chelsea have little to no pressure on Thursday and the midfielder can strut his stuff against the Ukrainians. Time to give Sarri something to think about!
Dynamo Kyiv 1-1 Chelsea
Dynamo Kyiv are no pushovers, by any stretch of imagination. The Ukrainians will be up to the task and look to get an early goal or two to put pressure on Chelsea. The early game – initial quarter of the game – could shape how Chelsea play the rest of the game.
But, even though the Wolves result suggests otherwise, the Blues have enough in the locker to atleast get a goal without relying on Eden Hazard, who is likely to be rested for the game. We expect Dynamo Kyiv to get one past Caballero but for Chelsea to not allow a clean sheet to the Ukrainians either. A scoring draw is on the cards, according to us.