Chelsea will look to bounce back after their humiliating and embarrasing 6-0 defeat to Manchester City last weekend, when they travel to Sweden to play Malmo in the first leg of their round of 32 tie in the Europa League.
Maurizio Sarri will be looking for a big response from his team on Thursday, as the pressure increases on the Italian boss, with some very recent reports suggesting that the Italian has one month to save his job.
Furthermore with that in mind, a win is a must on Thursday for Chelsea as they look to get back on the right track.
Malmo will be looking to add to Chelsea’s woes, as they come into this tie as massive underdogs, so they will know that there is no pressure on them in this tie.
The Sky Blues surprised many by finishing as runners-up to Genk in Group I, mainly thanks to a couple of wins over third-placed Besiktas, who finished two points worse off.
Their manager Uwe Rosler has managed before in England, when he was manager of Wigan Athletic quite a few years ago.
The Swedish club will be looking to become the first club from Sweden to make it to the last-16 stage of this competition.
Recent form in all competitions for both sides
Malmo FF- W/D/W/W/D/W
Chelsea FC- L/W/W/L/W/L
TV channel and live stream, and online coverage
The match will be televised live on BT Sport 2.
Team News (Credit-SportsMole)
In terms of the hosts, Guillermo Molins is likely to miss out and both Oscar Lewicki and Franz Brorsson are doubtful, meaning that they will have to be assessed ahead of Thursday’s first leg.
Marcus Antonsson, who has scored five goals in his last six competitive outings – including the winner against Besiktas – should lead the line for Malmo.
With the games against Man United and Man City in mind, Sarri will likely stick with his rotation policy in Europa by recalling a number of fringe players.
That could see a rare start for Callum Hudson-Odoi, though the youngster missed a couple of training sessions with illness last week and was not included in the squad to face Man City.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is out of the game tomorrow with a slight back injury, as Sarri confirmed this in his press conference recently.
Sarri also confirmed that Marcos Alonso has been left at home, as he needs to rest and recover according to the Italian boss.
News also came out earlier today from Liam Twomey of ESPN, that Drinkwater had aggravated a tendon, so will be out of tomorrow’s game, but Chelsea believe that it was only a minor injury, so will not be out for too long.
Ethan Ampadu is in line to feature, while Gary Cahill and Andreas Christensen look certain to replace David Luiz and Antonio Rudiger in a much-changed backline.
Elsewhere, Olivier Giroud is favourite to get the nod through the middle as he looks to build on his tally of four goals in three Europa League outings – more than in his previous eight appearances combined.
Predicted starting elevens
Malmo FF- Dahlin; Nielsen, Bengtsson, Safari; Vindheim, Christiansen, Bachirou, Lewicki, Rieks; Rosenborg, Antonsson.
Chelsea- Caballero; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Kovacic, Ampadu, Kante; Hudson-Odoi, Giroud, Willian.
Malmo Manager: Uwe Rosler (Quotes Credit- @ojharbord on Twitter)
Uwe Rosler on Chelsea’s loss to City: “To be honest, I was delighted. I have strong links to City. They play beautiful football. Chelsea started well, but they killed it off and I was delighted to watch that match.”
Rosler: “You can see the style of Chelsea is different from Conte and you can see a very clear style of a top coach.”
Rosler: “We can’t take Chelsea on toe-to-toe. They press very well and it is important for us to play in the right areas. I saw Bournemouth and the way that they play is similar to us.”
Malmo Player: Ingvi Traustason (Quotes Credit- @ojharbord on Twitter)
“Chelsea losing 6-0 means nothing, it just means it’s a harder job for us.”
Chelsea Manager: Maurizio Sarri (Quotes Credit- Official Chelsea Twitter account)
Maurizio Sarri reports that Ruben Loftus-Cheek has not travelled due to his back injury. He hopes to have him back for the FA Cup match. He says Marcos Alonso has been rested.
Sarri describes Malmo as a solid side who are good in defence but he wants Chelsea to react to the weekend defeat and win. He adds that he and that players had an hour-long meeting since then.
Sarri says at the moment the team has short-term targets, with each next game the most important, starting with tomorrow’s.
Sarri says that 99 per cent of our fans are wonderful and he is sure that tomorrow everything will be good with the support.
Chelsea Player: Pedro (Quotes Credit- Official Chelsea FC Twitter account)
Pedro says it has been a tough few days following defeat at City but we need to look forward and the most important thing is to win tomorrow to regain our confidence.
Pedro says the players’ mentality is good, but if you don’t focus from the first minute it is difficult. He reiterates it is an opportunity for us to play in a different competition and recover a good feeling.
Pedro is determined to put the 6-0 defeat, the worst of his career, behind him. He says the Europa League is important as it’s another option to enter into the Champions League.
Pedro says the players have no problem with motivation. He wants to win tomorrow, recover confidence and move on to other important matches coming up. He says tomorrow will be a difficult game.
Pedro says the gap between us and the top teams is there in points, but points out that we beat City and Arsenal in the Premier League at home, and beat Spurs in the League Cup. He acknowledges it will be difficult to catch the top sides, but says we will try.
Head to Head record
These two sides have never met before, so this encounter tomorrow evening will be their first!
Malmo have lost four of their five matches against English opposition in all competitions, the exception being a 2-1 home win against Nottingham Forest in the first round of the 1995-96 UEFA Cup.
Chelsea, meanwhile, have lost none of their previous four encounters against Swedish sides, though their only two previous-such away games ended goalless.
Betting Odds/My Prediction
Bet 365 have made Chelsea favourites for the first leg of this round of 32 tie in Sweden, with a Blues win being priced at 4/11. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 17/4, and a surprise Malmo win is being priced at 17/2.
My realistic prediction as a Journalist is a 1-1 draw, considering Chelsea’s poor recent form.
However my Optimistic prediction as a Chelsea fan is a 1-3 win to the Blues. I think the Blues have to respond in this game, and they will through goals from Giroud, Willian and Hudson-Odoi. Antonsson will score the goal for the home side.
Leave me down your score predictions and your predicted line ups for this match.
By Danyal Khan