Chelsea starts their Champions League campaign on Wednesday against Israeli team Maccabi Tel Aviv. With Jose Mourinho and his players under pressure to deliver, this match is a being seen as a sort of a make or break scenario.
TEAM NEWS, INJURY UPDATES AND SUSPENSIONS
Asmir Begovic will be playing since Thibaut Courtois is out after surgery and is touted to return in December. Oscar is set to return to the squad after remaining out for 4 weeks with a knee injury. The rest of the squad is fit and available for selection.
According to reports, Jose Mourinho is considering dropping Costa, Ivanovic and Fabregas, and handing starts to Remy, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Baba Rahman. A Baba Rahman debut would mean Azpilicueta could move to his natural right back position for the first time in 2 seasons. Bertrand Traore and Kenedy may be involved at some point.
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv will miss Eliazer Dasa through suspension. The rest of the squad is available to play.
The Blues and their manager are under immense pressure. Three defeats in their first five matches in the Premier League has already seen them fall 11 points behind favourites Manchester City. Jose Mourinho will not need to be reminded that owner Roman Abramovich takes the Champions League very seriously, and any failure to perform well may cost him his job, as it did in 2007, when a faltering Chelsea drew against Rosenborg and Mourinho was sacked two days later.
Although, it is believed that at this point, Mourinho has the full backing of the club, having signed a new contract just two months ago, Mourinho will need his players to turn the tide.
Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv manager Slavisa Jokanovic knows that they have nothing to lose when they come to face Chelsea on Wednesday at Stamford Bridge, with them being seen as the weakest team of the group. Jokanovic believes that since Chelsea are under pressure, it will be tough for them to get a result at Stamford Bridge. But he also acknowledges that his players can make it difficult for the Blues. He said,
“Is there really ever a nice time to go to Stamford Bridge and take on Chelsea? I am happy because we have this chance to play against Chelsea and test ourselves in the biggest competition in club football. We need to be intelligent and pick our moments. I trust my players. We have surprised people already in this competition – so why not do that again?”
Source – Standard
Former Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim will return to Stamford Bridge playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv, while their manager Slavisa Jokanovic himself has 39 league appearances for Chelsea, playing from 2000 to 2002. Chelsea have never faced Maccabi Tel Aviv before.
PREDICTED STARTING LINEUPS
Chelsea: Begovic (GK), Azpilicueta, Cahill, Terry, Baba, Fabregas, Matic, Hazard, Oscar, Pedro, Remy
Maccabi Tel Aviv: Rajkovic (GK), Shpungin, Ben Haim, Tibi, Ben Harush, Ben Haim II, Mitrovic, Alberman, Igiebor, Rikan, Zahavi
Chelsea 3-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv
Time: 1945 GMT / 0015 IST
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER)
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Edited By: Karan Dubey
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