Chelsea will be looking to go 4 unbeaten in their Europa League campaign with a win over BATE Borisov at the Borisov Arena in Belarus.
BATE will be looking will be looking to upset the blues by beating Chelsea when they face off on Thursday at 5:55pm (UK time).
The reverse fixture between these two sides on the 25th October finished 3-1 to Chelsea with Ruben Loftus Cheek bagging a hat-trick in the process when these two sides met at Stamford Bridge.
Source: Clive Rose/Getty Images
BATE are currently bottom of the group on goal difference with the same points as third and second place Vidi FC and PAOK, so they will see this game as one where they will have to get something out of to help them stand a chance of getting out of Group L.
Whereas for Chelsea, a win in this game will guarantee them a place in the next round of the Europa League – which would be useful for Maurizio Sarri as he could give younger players a chance in the remaining group games, such as Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu.
Form in the Europa League-
Former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb will hope to start for BATE, as will Jasse Tuominen having played his part during Finland’s recent resurgence on the international scene.
Hazard has made just one substitute appearance since October 20, and it would come as a surprise if the winger did not play some part of Thursday’s match. However it has been discovered today that Hazard has travelled with the Chelsea squad to Belarus, so could he start? Or will Sarri put him on the bench, and only use him if they need to?
Willian could also feature ahead of Pedro having been substituted after an hour against Crystal Palace, and Sarri has suggested that Olivier Giroud will be ready to start ahead of Alvaro Morata after overcoming an injury problem.
Either Jorginho or N’Golo Kante are likely to be rested, giving Mateo Kovacic, Cesc Fabregas and Loftus-Cheek the chance for more game time in the middle of the park.
Davide Zappacosta, Andreas Christensen, Gary Cahill and Emerson Palmieri are likely to make up the back four, with Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi potentially featuring on the bench.
Manager and Player comments
Chelsea manager- Maurizio Sarri
Sarri on leaving Morata at home: “He played for three matches in a row, so I thought it was better to rest at Cobham and have good training. The only problem is Fabregas who had a fever.”
Sarri on Hazard: “From our doctor there is no risk (in playing him tomorrow). In the last match he played 30 minutes, the best for tomorrow is that he plays 45 to 50 minutes.”
Chelsea player- Mateo Kovacic
BATE Borisov possible starting lineup:
Scherbitski; Rios, Filipovic, Filipenko, Volodko; Baga, Dragun, Hleb; Skavysh, Tuominen, Stasevich
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa, Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson, Jorginho, Kovacic, Kante, Loftus-Cheek, Giroud and Hazard.
Match facts/ Head to Head
Thursday’s fixture will represent just the second competitive meeting between the sides, with October’s clash marking Chelsea’s first-ever clash against Belarusian opposition.
BATE have twice hosted English sides in this competition, with Everton having to come from behind to earn a 2-1 win back in 2009.
Arsenal resisted a late fightback from BATE to register a 4-2 triumph just over 13 months ago.
Betting Odds/My Prediction
Sky Bet have made Chelsea the favourites for this encounter in Belarus with a blues win being priced at 2/5. A draw between these two teams is being priced at 18/5. However, a surprise BATE Borisov win is being priced at 13/2.
My Prediction for this game is a 1-3 win to Chelsea. – Sarri and his squad will be aware that victory in Belarus will see qualification wrapped up with two games to spare, and that should lead to a professional performance from the Blues. BATE have enjoyed success at their home ground in the past, but we expect Chelsea to ease to a comfortable win.
By Danyal Khan
Categories: Europa League