Match Preview

PMB: Chelsea v Slavia Prague - matchday

The final part of the Pre-Match Briefing gets you ready for today's game...


• After his assist for Marcos Alonso last week, Willian has scored twice and set-up five goals in his past six Europa League appearances. There is kinder scheduling and recovery time this week – Chelsea’s next action is at home to Burnley on Monday. It remains to be seen whether Maurizio Sarri will use a team very similar to that which won the first leg.

• His much-changed side gave the ball away more than usual in Prague, making it hard to play through the host’s high-pressing approach, especially in the opening 20 minutes. One goal for Chelsea tonight would leave Slavia needing a minimum of two, so the Italian will hope his team are more decisive with goalscoring opportunities than was the case at Anfield.


• Ethan Ampadu and Toni Rudiger, who left the field early against Liverpool, were both absent from training yesterday, as were Danny Drinkwater and Marcos Alonso. Could Gary Cahill, one of the heroes of the 2013 final against Benfica, return to the fray?


THREE IN ONE QUIZ


• ‘Chelsea were the best team we have played against this season in Europe,’ goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar admitted last week. Slavia have committed 40 more fouls than any other side in the competition and will hope to stay calm in London.

• In the last round at Seville and again in our first leg, coach Jindrich Trpisovsky used a midfield diamond and two upfront, pressing the defenders high upfield and with an intensity it seemed unlikely they could maintain. As they tired, the Londoners found space down the flanks and won possession more readily in the hosts’ half, leading to left-back Marcos Alonso losing his man and heading the winner. Statistically, Slavia’s most vulnerable moments are the fifteen minutes before the end of each half.


• Their starting line-up for Sunday’s Prague derby showed five changes from Thursday’s match, with Vladimir Coufal, Petr Sevcik, Miroslav Stoch and Peter Olayinka rested, and the influential Tomas Soucek is back. The midfielder – described by one of his coaches as ‘our octopus in the midfield’ – was banned last week against Chelsea, returning to score his side’s only goal.


Assistant Gianfranco Zola's pre-match quotes


'There's a lot of talking around this team, I realise that. But we as coaches have to make sure we are not distracted by all of that. We need to maintain focus, because this year a lot of times I heard talk that it's been a bad season.

'But if we can reach the final and maybe win the Europa League and end up fourth in the Premier League, I think it could be a remarkable season.'

Slavia boss Jindrich Trpisovsky's pre-match quotes

'I am very impressed by Chelsea. We were really stunned and the whole environment here, and this is a great experience. The quality is just unreal, it's like being on a different planet. Obviously we don't have that in the Czech Republic.

'I am very grateful that we can be here, and that we're playing here. We're going to war tomorrow, so we've got to be ready.'



Squad news

Chelsea
Injured
Marcos Alonso
Toni Rudiger
Ethan Ampadu

Suspended
None


Slavia
Injured
Jakub Hromada
Stanislav Tecl

Suspended
None
 

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Referee Damir Skomina and his four assistants are all from Slovenia. He has officiated six Chelsea matches in Europe since 2012. One has so far ended in a win for the Blues: a 2-1 against Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final, on our way to winning the competition in 2011/12.
 

Matchday weather outlook

A pleasant spring evening in west London.


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