Chelsea continue their Europa League journey this evening when they take on Slavia Prague in the Czech Republic.
Maurizio Sarri and his Chelsea squad’s focus is on securing a top-four finish this season and currently sit fourth in the Premier League.
But while the league has been something of a struggle at times, the Europa League has been a breeze for the Blues.
Indeed, their form in the competition means they are among the bookmaker’s favourites for the trophy this season. They are indeed favourites to overcome Slavia Prague in this game.
Maurizio Sarri has rotated his squad consistently in this competition and is likely to do so again given his side’s fixture schedule.
Having played on Monday and with a clash against Liverpool on Sunday to come, changing the team up has become a priority.
Eden Hazard is likely to be rested, with Sarri claiming the Belgian is suffering from tiredness. Olivier Giroud is also expected to come in having starred in this competition so far this season.
Callum Hudson-Odoi may get a start while fellow squad players such as Ross Barkley, Willian, and Pedro who didn’t start on Monday may come in.
Slavia Prague don’t have any injury problems coming into the game but will be without key man Tomas Soucek, who is suspended for the game.
Conversely, the return of Vladimir Coufal is a boost, as is the availability of Petr Sevchik, who should be available to play after recovering from injury.
What the managers said
Despite being heavy favourites, Maurizio Sarri has warned that this will not be an easy game for his side.
‘We need to be careful because this is a very dangerous match for us,’ he said.
‘They are very dangerous. They scored six goals in two matches against Sevilla. We need to be very compact and to defend very well.
“Especially on crosses they attack the box with five or six players, and they are dangerous on counter-attacks. It won’t be easy for us.’
Slavia Prague manager Jindrich Trpisovsky said he was expecting the Blues to rotate their squad for this game.
“No, a lot of their players are being rotated, plus Liverpool are waiting for them this weekend, so they have to rotate again,” he said.
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think a lot of those who played against West Ham on Monday won’t play against us. Not that they will change the whole starting 11, but we will just have to wait and see what they come at us with. Their squad is certainly stronger than ours.”
This is the first time that these two clubs have ever met in their respective histories.
Chelsea do have a good history against sides from the Czech Republic, though. They’re undefeated in their last six meetings with such teams.
On the other hand, Slavia Prague don’t have much history with English sides. They lost their last meeting with one in the 2008/09 campaign.
Expect goals in this game. There have been over 2.5 goals in Chelsea’s last six Europa League games and Slavia Prague’s last three.
Likewise, Chelsea have won with at least a three-goal margin in their last three games, and Slavia Prague have scored at least two goals in their previous three.