Chelsea will be without Eden Hazard for their Europa League clash with BATE Borisov as the Blues look to maintain their winning start.
The Belgian playmaker has picked up a back injury and will not feature, with Sunday’s Premier League game against Burnley also a doubt.
Chelsea have won both of their Europa League games so far, but head coach Maurizio Sarri says that Thursday’s game will not be easy against BATE.
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Charlie’s Europa predictions
“These two matches in Europe have been difficult. They’ve not been easy,” he said.
“We have to prepare our minds to play another difficult match because this opponent during the season has lost only four times I think. I think it will be very difficult as this season they’ve done better away from home.”
BATE are third in Group L having won their opening Europa League game against Vidi, but were beaten 4-1 by PAOK last time out.
Along with Hazard, Sarri confirmed that Jorginho will be rested while youngster Ethan Amapdu is also sidelined.
However, the Italian hinted that Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek could both get some much-needed game time.
This will be Chelsea’s first ever meeting with Belarusian opposition.
BATE Borisov have lost three of their four meetings with English clubs (W1) – losing 1-2 at home to Everton in 2009-10, and losing both meetings with Arsenal last season by an aggregate score of 2-10. All matches were in the Europa League group stages.
Chelsea are looking to win their first three group stage games in a season in major European competition for the first time since the 2010-11 Champions League campaign.
BATE’s win at MOL Vidi FC on matchday one ended a run of 12 away games without a win in major European competition, excluding qualifiers (D2 L10).
Chelsea have attempted 50 shots in the Europa League this season, at least seven more than any other side. However, just 10 of these have been on target (20%), with just two finding the net (4%).
It is always an awkward one when taking on these type of teams but Chelsea are far too strong and they’ll have enough to get through this one regardless of what team [Maurizio Sarri] puts out. Sarri can afford to make as many changes as he likes – such is the size of his squad there – and there are no excuses for not getting the win.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 2-1 (6/1 with Sky Bet)
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