Chelsea take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their Europa League semi final, with a crucial away goal giving the Blues the advantage in this tie.
The West-Londoners come into this game on a high note after securing Champions League football in the Premier League at the weekend.
They emphatically beat Watford 3-0 at Stamford Bridge.
Whereas Eintracht come into this game after a thumping 6-1 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen, which dented their hopes of a top four finish in the Bundesliga.
The German side will see an opportunity to get at an injury prone Chelsea on Thursday night.
However the fact that Chelsea already have UCL football secured may release the pressure on Sarri’s men to go out and put a good performance in. A performance which will take them to the Europa League final in Baku- to set up a potential all English final against Arsenal.
Recent form in all competitions
Team News (Credit- Sportsmole)
Chelsea will almost certainly be without N’Golo Kante after the midfielder sustained a hamstring injury at the weekend.
Mateo Kovacic is likely to replace the France international, while Loftus-Cheek should get the nod over Ross Barkley.
Willian and Giroud are expected to return to the starting lineup, and Emerson Palmieri could be preferred to Marcos Alonso at left-back.
Frankfurt are able to welcome back Rebic, and it may lead to Mijat Gacinovic dropping down to the substitutes’ bench.
Sebastien Haller remains out of contention due to a stomach injury.
Predicted starting elevens
Chelsea’s predicted starting XI (4-3-3)- Kepa; Azpilicueta, Luiz, Christensen, Alonso; Jorginho, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek; Hazard, Pedro, Giroud.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s predicted starting XI (3-5-1-1)- Trapp; Abraham, Hinteregger, Falette; Da Costa, Fernandes, Hasebe, Rode, Kostic; Rebic; Jovic.
Chelsea Manager and Player Comments
Chelsea manager: Maurizio Sarri (Quotes Credit- @NizaarKinsella)
Sarri on transfer ban: “I am not able to help you, I don’t know the situation. I think there will be a statement from the club in the afternoon.”
Sarri on what he would ask in the transfer market if the ban was delayed: “I think we are a very good team, so we need only one or two players.”
Sarri on N’Golo Kante’s injury: “It is not very serious but we will try to recover him in a couple of weeks. He can only be fit for a final. I am not sure, but I can try.”
Sarri on Eintracht Frankfurt: “They have two strikers really very good, Jovic and Rebic, so we have to be careful.”
Sarri on PL teams doing well in Europe: “The level of the Premier League is clear. For an English team, it is not easy to arrive in May in a very good condition. Tomorrow we play match number 61. It is not easy physically but also mentally. The level is clear.”
Chelsea player: Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Quotes Credit- @NizaarKinsella)
Loftus-Cheek on his best season yet: “I am 23 now, I don’t think I should be seen as a young player anymore it is down to me to step up.”
Loftus-Cheek on transfer ban: “If the club is banned from transfers then we have to keep the squad we have and maybe bring some players back from loan. It might give me the opportunity to play more, but I don’t want that to play more, I want to work hard”
Loftus-Cheek on being a Lampard like goalscorer from midfield: “I studied him a lot on how he arrives in the box and has the timing. I aspire to be a player like that.”
Loftus-Cheek on changing his training to manage his back: “Playing every three days is something I have never done so it is important I get some rest. I might not do a whole training session after a game, I do half of it or something else.”
Ruben Loftus-Cheek on a new contract: “I am not sure *laughs* I would let an agent deal with it, I am focused on how I am playing right now.”
Head to Head record
This is the second meeting between these two sides in European competitions, after the 1-1 draw last Thursday in the first leg of this Europa League semi final.
So after one game between the two sides- the head to head record so far is one draw. Who will be able to turn the head to head record in their favour on Thursday with a win?
Betting Odds/Match Predictions
Sky Bet have made Chelsea favourites to progress to the final of the Europa League with a win in the second leg on Thursday for the Blues being priced at 4/11. A draw between the two sides which could see either side progress to final is being priced at 19/5. A surprising Eintracht Frankfurt win at the Bridge which would take them through is being priced at 7/1.
My realistic prediction for this game as a journalist is a tight 1-0 win to Chelsea.
And my optimistic prediction as a Chelsea fan for this game as a Chelsea fan is a tight 2-1 Chelsea win, with Giroud getting both goals.
Comment down below your starting line up predictions, and do you think Chelsea will make it to the final in Baku?
By Danyal Khan