Chelsea vs NK Maribor – Three Key Player Battles
Something feels very right when you think about the Champions League night. Maybe it’s the familiar tune of “Champions”, the anticipation and excitement of what’s about to come, or in our case, the realization that we are the best club in England, that just puts everything in perspective.
And that’s why, our Champions League game in Slovenia tomorrow night has got me pretty excited!
Chelsea sits at the top of the Champions League group G, with 7 points from the possible nine, and en route to qualifying for the knock-out stage. We just have to make sure it happens tomorrow with a win.
Meanwhile, NK Maribor, after suffering a 6-0 humiliation at Stamford Bridge in October, are yet to register their first win in the group stage, and with Chelsea in town, the Slovenian side might have to wait a bit longer to achieve that feat.
Although, they do come into this fixture in a decent form, with 2 wins and a loss after their trip to Stamford Bridge.
With Jose Mourinho looking to rest a few of his first-team players ahead of the trip to Anfield, our starting eleven could look a bit different compared to the one that thrashed Maribor on 21st October.
So, keeping that in mind, we analyze a few of the player battles that may influence the outcome of this game:
EDEN HAZARD vs PETAR STOJANOVIC
It’s impossible to keep the Belgian out of the game when he is in this kind of form. We all remember what happened the last time these two lined up against each other. It was Eden Hazard who tore the Maribor right-back to pieces in a man of the match performance during Chelsea’s 6-0 win, and unfortunately for Petar, things aren’t looking much different this time around too.
With the weekend trip to Merseyside at the back of Mourinho’s mind, the boss might take Hazard off early, and honestly, that’s the only way I see Petar breathing a sigh of relief tomorrow night. If the Belgian starts, do keep an eye on this battle!
ANDRE SCHURRLE vs MITJA VILER
After suffering a flu that kept him out of a few important matches, the World Cup winner was back in the Capital One Cup clash against Shrewsbury, looking like a shadow of his former self.
Mourinho was right to criticize the winger in his interview, and now it is up to Schurrle to prove his worth, when he lines up against Maribor on the right wing. Mitja Viler, the Maribor left back, really struggled against Willian in the October thrashing, and Schurrle has a golden chance to be a real threat down that flank this time around. If the German winger does get his touch back tomorrow, he could be a real danger with his pace and goalscoring abilities while Viler might have to experience another nightmarish time on the pitch,
MARCOS TAVARES vs KURT ZOUMA
Marcos Tavares is NK Maribor’s most experienced player, but the central forward was unable to help his team in the 6-0 thrashing in October. This time around though, with John Terry probably rested, Tavares will have a chance to bring his experience into play against the young Frenchman, Kurt Zouma.
Zouma has started a few of the Blues’ fixtures this season, and he has certainly looked impressive and composed on the ball. Jose Mourinho trusts him enough to start him in less important fixtures, and if Zouma can keep in check Tavares’ run tomorrow night, he would further strengthen his position as a top young prospect across Europe.
Edited By: Girish Bhangre