Chelsea’s Champions League match against Krasnodar this week is a rare bonus game for the Blues who will finish top of our group regardless of what happens against the Russian side at Stamford Bridge.
Having sealed first place in Group E with our 4-0 thumping of Sevilla in Spain last week, Frank Lampard could make wholesale changes to his line-up for our final match of the opening round, resting some of his regular starters for the challenges ahead and giving the opportunity for fringe players to shine.
While these ‘dead rubber’ games don’t happen too often, Chelsea have been in this situation in six of our previous European campaign.
2004/05 – Paris Saint-Germain and Porto
The Blues actually faced two dead rubbers in 2004/05 after wins in our first four games sent us eight points clear at the top of Group H with two matches left. Jose Mourinho made seven changes for our home game against Paris Saint-Germain, leaving out the likes of Petr Cech, John Terry and Claude Makelele for a 0-0 draw. Cech and Terry returned and only four changes were made for Mourinho’s return to Porto for our final game but his former team recovered after falling behind to a Damien Duff goal to win 2-1 as they finished second and joined us in the last 16.
2007/08 – Valencia
Chelsea’s 4-0 win at Rosenborg in our penultimate Group B game put us four points ahead of the second-placed Norwegian side with a game left and meant our final game against Valencia at the Bridge was largely inconsequential. Avram Grant duly made seven changes to his team from our weekend win against Sunderland as we were held to a goalless draw by the Spanish club.
2009/10 - APOEL
Victories in four of our first five games in Group E sent us four points clear ahead of our match against APOEL and Carlo Ancelotti took the opportunity to make seven changes with Ross Turnbull and Gael Kakuta named as starters for the first time. His experimental line-up came from behind to lead 2-1 with goals by Michael Essien and Didier Drogba but we couldn’t add a third and Marcin Zewlakow levelled for the Cypriot side with three minutes left.
2010/11 – Marseille
After sealing first place in Group F with wins in our first five games, the only question was whether we could secure a perfect record with victory in Marseille. Ancelotti made only three changes from our weekend draw against Everton and included Drogba, who returned to the Stade Velodrome for the first time to play against his former club. However, the Blues failed to sparkle in France and after having two clear-cut penalty decisions turned down, we were beaten by a late Brandao goal.
2014/15 – Sporting Lisbon
A 5-0 win at Schalke put us four points ahead of second-placed Sporting Lisbon in Group G with a game left and Mourinho opted to make six changes for our meeting with the Portuguese side at the Bridge. His players weren’t willing to do any favours for his compatriots though as an early Cesc Fabregas penalty, a clinical strike by Andre Schurrle and a rare John Mikel Obi goal gave us a 3-1 win which sent Schalke through to the last 16 at Sporting’s expense. The game also marked the senior debut of Ruben Loftus-Cheek who came on to replace Fabregas late on.
2018/19 – Vidi
Our only appearance to date in the Europa League group stage saw us secure top spot after victories in our first five games and Maurizio Sarri decided to make 10 changes from our 2-0 win over Manchester City when we travelled to Hungary to face Vidi. Willian was the only player to start both games and he put us ahead with a trademark free-kick only for the home side to battle back to take a 2-1 lead. The Brazilian was replaced early in the second half and in his absence, Olivier Giroud converted from another free-kick 15 minutes from time to maintain our unbeaten record.