Thomas Tuchel & co. will be kick-off their UEFA Champions League campaign for this season against Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday evening.
The Blues, who are in Group H, alongside Juventus and Malmo, will be aiming to kickstart the defence of their Uefa Champions League crown with a win when lock horns with Russian giants, who have made an impressive start to the new season.
Sergei Semak’s side kicking things off with the Russian Super Cup triumph in the summer, following which they have gone on a seven-game unbeaten run in the Russia Premier League, where they are at the top of the table, after a 3-1 win over Akhmat Grozny last time out.
Chelsea, meanwhile, win the UEFA Super Cup while also joint table-toppers in the Premier League as well in the new season.
Last season, Thomas Tuchel’s men enjoyed a marvellous run in the Champions League, going on to beat the likes of Atletico Madrid, Porto, Real Madrid and Manchester City on their way to lifting the most coveted trophy in European club football.
Zenit St Petersburg, on the other hand, endured a torrid time in the Uefa Champions League last term, as they crashed out at the group stages. And things will be tricky once again for Sergei Semak’s side, considering that they will also have to contend with Juventus and Malmo in the group, apart from Chelsea.
Ahead of this much-anticipated encounter at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night, Thomas Tuchel will be without two first-team players who are yet to recover fully from their injuries problem.
N’Golo Kante and Christian Pulisic are those players who expected to miss tonight’s clash, and despite Kante made returned to Cobham on Monday, Thomas Tuchel has confirmed the Frenchman could be rushing into action.
Moving on to predicted starting lineup, Thomas Tuchel unlikely to change his tactician when his side’s face the Russian giants on Tuesday evening but there should be a couple of changes in defensive unit.
Edouard Mendy is expected to keep hold of his place in the starting XI ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga while Andreas Christensen could in for Thiago Silva, whose game-time needs to be managed.
The other change at the hearts of Chelsea defence should see skipper Cesar Azipilicueta moving into centre-back slot in place of Trevoh Chalobah as Reece James returns to the lineup at right wing-back after missing the weekend due to suspension.
Marcos Alonso has started the season strongly and should start again at left wing-back ahead of Ben Chilwell, who battle with match fitness since start of the season.
As for the middle of park, since N’Golo Kante is not available for the selection and Saul struggled to make impact during his Chelsea’s debut in weekend win against Aston Villa. So, we can expect Jorginho to start alongside Mateo Kovacic, who produced eye-catching display in the middle of the park against Villa.
Moving into the final third of the pitch, Mason Mount ought to return to the starting lineup as one of the two attacking midfielders. Kai Havertz ought to hold on to his place, meaning Hakim Ziyech will be the one missing out.
Romelu Lukaku has been in red-hot form since returning to Chelsea and should spearhead their attack again this Tuesday. Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner could be other options for Thomas Tuchel when his side’s need fresh energy in second half of the game.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Mendy; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Havertz; Lukaku
Where is the match being played? at Stamford Bridge
When is kick off? Tuesday 14 September, at 8:00PM
Referee: Bartosz Frankowski (POL)
Assistant referees: Marcin Boniek (POL), Jakub Winkler (POL)
VAR: Marco Fritz (GER)
AVAR: Marco Di Bello (ITA)
Fourth official: Krzysztof Jakubik (POL)