Antonio Conte’s Chelsea team head to Baku, Azerbaijan, on Wednesday night to face bottom of the group Qarabag. Chelsea will be hoping to book their place in the knock-out stages of the competition.
Chelsea sit second in the table, one point behind group leaders Roma, but will confirm their qualification to the next round with a win Wednesday night. Providing Atletico Madrid fail to beat Roma, a draw would also see Conte’s men through.
It’s likely Conte will field a frightening full strength Chelsea XI for this game, having described the fixture “the most important of the season” after Saturday afternoon’s demolition job of West Brom which saw the Baggies’ manager Tony Pulis lose his job.
In what looked like a bid to keep his best players fit and fighting for Wednesday’s clash, Cesc Fabregas, N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard were all subbed off in the second half at the Hawthorns, which suggests they will be starting Wednesday night.
However Conte will have this coming weekend’s tough trip to Anfield in the back of his mind, which may well affect his selection for this one.
Victor Moses will again be out for the Londoners, but is expected to be fighting fit for this Saturday’s Premier League clash. Qarabag meanwhile will be without Pedro Henrique due to suspension. But will see the return of Dino Ndlovu after his previous match ban.
The last time the two sides met, was in the first clash of this Champions League campaign. Chelsea thrashed Qarabag 6-0 at Stamford Bridge, however the Azerbaijan champions have found their Champions League feet in recent weeks, picking up two draws against a classy Atletico Madrid team.
Conte’s side have hit back after their 3-0 defeat to Roma, with two impressive victories in the Premier League over West Brom and Manchester United.
The return of midfield maestro N’Golo Kante hasn’t gone unnoticed and the French man has helped Chelsea immensely. Chelsea also have Eden Hazard and top scorer Alvaro Morata fully fit and seemingly at the top of their game. The two have seemed to form a strong partnership, which will only improve with more game time as the season progresses.
Chelsea’s final group fixture will see Conte’s side face Atletico Madrid, but Conte will want his side to secure qualification before that date, and his side have more than enough quality to go to Azerbaijan and get the job done.
Score Prediction – Qurabag 1-4 Chelsea.