Chelsea will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to 14 games in all competitions when they face FK Krasnodar in Group E of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.

The final fixtures of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League group stages will be played this week. Premier League giants Chelsea will be hoping to finish unbeaten in Group E when they lock horns with Russian outfit FK Krasnodar at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

Chelsea, who are yet to lose a game in Europe this term (W4 D1), have qualified for the knockout stages and are confirmed as the group winners as well, following their emphatic 4-0 win over Sevilla last week. The Blues followed it up with a 3-1 win over Leeds United in the Premier League this weekend, extending their unbeaten streak in all competitions to 13 games.

Krasnodar are certain to finish third in the group in their maiden Champions League campaign and will enter the UEFA Europa League knockouts, irrespective of the result on Tuesday, after their 1-0 win over Rennes last week. They head into the game at on the back of a 5-0 win over Rotor Volgograd in the Russian Premier League and will be hoping to pull off an upset at Stamford Bridge.

The reverse fixture, played in October, saw Chelsea put Krasnodar to the sword, beating them 4-0 with goals coming from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic. Ahead of their latest game this Tuesday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Chelsea

Lampard's Chelsea are on a roll (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Lampard’s Chelsea are on a roll (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Hakim Ziyech picked up an injury at the weekend against Leeds United and is unlikely to be involved. Callum Hudson-Odoi will also miss out after picking up a hamstring injury in training. With qualification for the next phase achieved and a key game against Everton awaiting at the weekend, Frank Lampard will be tempted to rotate his troops on Tuesday.

Lampard has already confirmed ahead of the game that Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to start in goal, replacing the first-choice custodian Edouard Mendy. Wholesale alterations could be seen in defence, though, with Cesar Azpilicueta and Emerson Palmieri coming in as the full-backs, flanking the centre-back duo of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger.

Jorginho should start in the middle of the park, affording some rest to N’Golo Kante, who put in another masterful display against Leeds this past weekend. Billy Gilmour is another player that Lampard said will be starting on Tuesday, with the duo forming the double-pivot in the 4-2-3-1 formation.

Kai Havertz is expected to retain his place in the starting XI, meaning Mason Mount is given a breather. The German ought to start as the No. 10. On the flanks, Christian Pulisic is likely to start on the left flank, while Hudson-Odoi’s injury means, Timo Werner could find himself slotting in on the right.

Olivier Giroud scored all the four goals for Chelsea against Sevilla last week and was on the scoresheet against Leeds as well. However, the Frenchman could be given a rest here, with Tammy Abraham slotting in as the centre-forward.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger, Emerson; Jorginho, Gilmour; Werner, Havertz, Pulisic; Abraham

Krasnodar

Krasnodar head coach Murad Musayev has just a couple of injury issues to contend with ahead of the trip to Chelsea, with defenders Sergey Petrov and Dmitri Stotskiy set to miss out. Having registered their first-ever victory in the Champions League last time out, the manager might look to stick with the same starting lineup on Tuesday.

21-year-old Matvey Sofanov will be manning the goal and could be in for a busy night if Chelsea get going. He will need all the protection he can get from the backline of Igor Smolnikov, captain Aleksandr Martynovich, Kaio and Cristian Ramirez.

Yuri Gazinskiy and Tonny Vilhena ought to start in the midfield double pivot and look to curb the influence of the likes of Havertz and Kovacic. The creative responsibilities will fall on the shoulders of Remy Cabella who ought to slot in as the No. 10 for the visiting side.

Brazilian winger Wanderson ought to start on the right flank from where he will look to trouble Emerson, who can be a weak-link in the Chelsea defence. Viktor Claesson, who has five goals and three assists this term, should slot in on the left with veteran striker Marcus Berg spearheading the Krasnodar attack at Stamford Bridge.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sofanov; Smolnikov, Martynovic, Kaio, Ramirez; Gazinskiy, Vilhena; Wanderson, Cabella, Claesson; Berg

Key Stats

  • Chelsea’s only previous meeting with Krasnodar came on Matchday 2 of the ongoing UEFA Champions League campaign.
  • This will just be the second time that Krasnodar have faced an English opposition away from home in European competitions, with their previous trip ending in a 1-0 win against Everton in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League.
  • Chelsea have a 100 per cent record against Russian opposition in the UEFA Champions League, winning each of their five such games with an aggregate scoreline of 13-1.
  • Krasnodar have won just one of their last nine away games in major European competitions (D2 L6), excluding qualifiers.
  • Victory for Chelsea on Tuesday would give them their highest-ever points tally in a single Champions League group stage (16). They would become just the fourth English team to gather such a high total after Arsenal in 2005/06, Manchester United in 2007/08 and Tottenham Hotspur in 2017/18.

Player to Watch

Kai Havertz

The German international arrived at Chelsea on the back of an excellent 2019/20 campaign with Bayer Leverkusen. However, he has endured a stop-start season in West London, failing to make the impact that many expected from him upon his big-money arrival in the summer.

Obviously, matters have not been helped with him testing positive for coronavirus and missing a chunk of games. And while he has contributed with four goals and assists apiece in 14 games in all competitions, Havertz is yet to quite hit his stride at Chelsea. There were a lot of positive signs against Sevilla, but he failed to build on it against Leeds this weekend.

With Mateo Kovacic impressing during Havertz’s absence, the German will be aware that he will need to make a huge impression soon and a strong outing against Krasnodar side that could be there for the taking should set the tone for the 21-year-old to kick on in England.

Prediction

Chelsea 3-1 Krasnodar

Even though Chelsea are likely to make wholesale alterations to their lineup, they have more than enough quality to see off any sort of challenge from Krasnodar on Tuesday. A much-changed defence, coupled with the visitors’ goalscoring form from the weekend, could mean that the Blues might let in a goal, but their attacking prowess should see them through fairly easily.

Leave A Comment...

*