Krasnodar: Safonov; Smolnikov, Kaio, Martynovich, Chernov; Vilhena, Gazinskiy; Suleymanov, Sabua, Ramirez; Berg
Chelsea: Mendy; Chilwell, Tomori, Zouma, James, Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount; Hudson Odoi, Ziyech, Giroud
Chelsea travel to Russia for their second game of this season’s Champions League campaign, against Krasnador. No doubt, any Champions League game will be one that requires maximum attention and consider, however is Frank Lampard likely to have one eye on improving our league position?
We come into this game on the back of three consecutive draws, with our last two draws perhaps being overshadowed by our amazing defensive display, in which we kept two clean sheets, which hopefully we can use to push on for the rest of this season. Last Tuesday, we played last year’s Europa League champions, Sevilla in what has to be said, a real lacklustre performance. Nevertheless, picking up the point at Stamford Bridge will most definitely encourage Lampard, however I’m sure he will be looking to take all three points home with him from Russia.
As for our opposition, Krasnador has been plagued with a number of injuries in preparation for this game, with over 15 first team players being either injured, ill or suspended from the game against Chelsea, meaning Lampard obviously has the greater options of the two managers in terms of team selection. For those who are unaware of our opposition, Krasnador are a very new team, who play their league matches in the Russian Premier League. The club was only founded 12 years ago and have had great success since they were founded in 2008, however it might be one of their greatest achievements if they are able to secure a result against us on match day number two of this year’s Champions League. Krasnador managed to grab themselves a point in their first game in Group E against Rennes, with a 1-1 draw. Despite their lack of first team players going into this game, the Russian team will be looking to continue their form in the Champions League.
In terms of team selection, and as previously mentioned, we might expect Lampard to make changes ahead of our next Premier League tie against a very resilient Burnley side. Therefore, we could be in for Hakim Ziyech’s first start of this season. Ziyech has only made appearances from the bench in the last couple of games, however he is yet to make his first start for us. Personally, I wouldn’t be shocked to see our player of the season for the 2019/20 campaign, Mr Mateo Kovacic make an appearance for the Blues on Wednesday evening. Kovacic, also has had limited minutes so far this season, with Lampard clearly favouring a pivot of Jorginho and Kante, however we shouldn’t be surprised to see some form of rotation in order to combat fatigue from our busy schedule of games.
Hopefully we can see Callum Hudson Odoi make his first appearance in this Champions League campaign, too. In recent weeks, he hasn’t been at the forefront of Lampard’s mind, causing Callum’s absence from the 18 man squad for the United game. Callum is undoubtedly a huge talent and is regarded as one of the best youngsters in the world, yet he hasn’t been given the chance like some of the other academy graduates, like Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham or even Reece James, so Hudson Odoi will be eager to show why he should be given more chances, as will Fikayo Tomori, who has been short of appearances in recent weeks and months, falling down the pecking order with the signing of Thiago Silva from PSG this last summer. However Thiago has been rested for this upcoming game, which could open the door for the English centre half. I believe we could also be in to witness Olivier Giroud’s first minutes of his season in our next game. Despite being France’s number 9, Giroud has again, fallen down the pecking order, after an impressive end to the season after the restart. However the capture of Timo Werner’s signature has meant playing time has been reduced significantly.