Maurizio Sarri is anticipating five or six changes to the Chelsea starting line-up for tomorrow night’s Europa League game at Stamford Bridge, with one of those forced upon him due to an injury to Eden Hazard.
The manager was speaking at his media conference ahead of our third group-stage game, against BATE Borisov from Belarus. So far this season Sarri has rotated his selection between Premier League and Europa League games, a situation he says may change in the future, but for the moment he needs to balance the demands of maintaining our 100 per cent start in this season’s European campaign and facing our next domestic league match, at Burnley, as soon as Sunday lunchtime.
Asked about the need to rest players tomorrow, Sarri told reporters:
‘This match is not a big problem, because we have to play five days after the last match. The problem will be on Sunday as we have to play after 65 hours, so we need to change something. We need to think and be careful. For instance Jorginho needs to rest now as he played two 90 minutes in two match for the Italy national team and then nearly 100 minutes in our last game, so it is time to rest for him.
‘Tomorrow Eden Hazard is out for sure. He has a back problem,’ the boss continued. ‘We are trying to solve the problem for Sunday, I think it is not very easy, and the other one out is Ethan Ampadu because of a knee injury.’ That was suffered on international duty with Wales.
‘Christensen I think will be on the pitch, I don’t know for Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek maybe.’
Sarri was asked in the conference whether Manchester United had been too aggressive in their challenges on Hazard in our Premier League meeting at the weekend.
‘I like very much English football also for that,’ answered Sarri. ‘It is normal to have the same questions with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. It is normal I think. We have no problem with Manchester United in particular.’
Turning attention to the coming match, Sarri was keen to emphasis tomorrow will be challenging despite the Blues having won our opening two group games without conceding.
‘In Europe everything is difficult,’ he said. ‘The other two games were not easy, so we have to prepare our minds to play another difficult match because this opponent during the season has lost only four times I think and for them the season is going to finish soon. This season they have done better away than at home, so it is not easy.’