Chelsea travel to Germany for the first leg of their Europa League semi final against Eintracht Frankfurt.
If the West-Londoners avoid defeat in the first leg on Thursday, then they will still maintain their unbeaten record in this years competition.
The Blues main target will be to stay in the tie, going into the second leg at Stamford Bridge next Thursday.
But if all goes well on Thursday night, then the Blues will be hoping to score an away goal and take an advantage back to London.
Frankfurt welcome the Blues hoping to register another high-profile scalp as they bid to move closer to winning their first European trophy since 1980.
The German club managed to overturn a deficit against Benfica, to progress to this years semi-final.
Both of these sides come into this game on the back of draws in their respective leagues.
Recent form for both sides in all competitions
Eintracht Frankfurt- W/L/L/W/D/D
Frankfurt will be without Croatia international Ante Rebic – who serves a one-match suspension – but Evan Ndicka returns after a ban.
Mijat Gacinovic is an injury doubt for the German side, with former Swansea City man Jonathan de Guzman a potential inclusion should he not recover from a stomach injury.
Chelsea are without the likes of Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi, who are both out with long term injuries.
Willian received a knock to his ankle in Sunday’s game with Man United, but the Brazilian is expected to feature in the 18-man squad.
Andreas Christensen should replace the injured Antonio Rudiger, while Emerson Palmieri may return in order to take the spot of Marcos Alonso at left-back.
Either Loftus-Cheek or Ross Barkley should come into the team as a replacement for Mateo Kovacic, with Pedro and Olivier Giroud being selected in the final third.
Predicted starting elevens
Eintracht Frankfurt’s predicted starting XI (3-5-2)- Trapp; Ndicka, Hinteregger, Hasebe; Costa, Rode, Fernandes, Kostic; Jovic, Paciencia.
Chelsea’s predicted starting XI (4-3-3)- Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Hazard, Giroud.
Eintracht Frankfurt Manager: Adi Hutter (Quotes Credit- @liam_twomey on twitter)
Hutter says Sarri needs more time to work at Chelsea but insists he can see the Italian’s ‘handwriting’ on this team, pointing out they press very well.
Hutter: “Chelsea’s a very fast, quick team & you have to be very fast in your head [to defend them]… you have to close down & not concede spaces”
Hutter compares Eintracht to Ajax in terms of confounding expectations by reaching a European semi-final, but stresses again that Chelsea are a Champions League team with much more experience.
Hutter calls Hazard one of the top three wingers in the world & hints at his tactical plan tomorrow by saying ‘you always have to double him’
Chelsea Manager: Maurizio Sarri (Quotes Credit-
Head to Head record (Credit- Sportsmole)
Thursday’s fixture will represent the first time that these two teams have squared off in an official match.
Chelsea have only been drawn against German opposition on two occasions since 2013, with the Blues coming through unbeaten in four games against Schalke 04 in the Champions League group stages.
Frankfurt last played a competitive game against an English side when recording a goalless draw against Newcastle United in the UEFA Cup during the 2006-07 campaign.
Betting Odds/Match Predictions
An Einracht Frankfurt win in this first leg is being priced at 9/5 by Bet 365. A draw between these two sides is being priced at 12/5. And a Chelsea away win in the first leg is being priced at 17/10.
My realistic prediction for this match as a journalist is a 2-1 defeat. I just have a bad feeling… However that wouldn’t be a disastrous result as we would get a vital away goal, but would leave us with all of it to do at Stamford Bridge in the second leg.
my optimistic prediction for this match as a Chelsea fan is a 1-1 draw. This would be a satisfactory result for us in my opinion. We would definitely be favourites to go through if we get this result tomorrow.
Comment down below your line up predictions, and how you think the game will go. Are you more confident than what I am?
By Danyal Khan