UCL Preview – Can Chelsea start off on a high against Sevilla?
Chelsea welcome Sevilla to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday for their first group game of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League. This is preceded by their capitulation against Southampton in the same venue a few days ago in the Premier League.
The Blues looked to have the game under control till a mistake from Kai Havertz saw the Saints pull one back in the closing stages of the first half after a Timo Werner brace. The game eventually ended 3 all to Chelsea’s disadvantage, as they were 2 nil up just before halftime.
Frank Lampard and his men will turn their attentions to the UEFA Champions League as Julen Lopetegui and his men come visiting, off the back of a 1 nil La Liga loss to Granada away from home.
The two sides are the favorites in the group on paper and should do enough to progress into the knockout phases ahead of the likes of Krasnodar and Rennes. However, the game has not been short of surprises, and more so with the absence of fans in stadia.
Sevilla were the Europa League champions last season and nearly gave red hot Bayern Munich a run for their money in the UEFA Supercup. They’ve already drawn against Barcelona at the Camp Nou this season and will be a major threat to the Blues regardless of the venue.
This encounter is a key fixture and will be a pointer to if Frank Lampard and his men will be able to cut it in Europe’s elite club football competition this season or not.
It can be recalled that the last La Liga team they faced in the competition, which was Valencia, beat them 1 nil at Stamford Bridge in the first leg before they drew 2 all away at the Mestalla.
Therefore, the Blues have their work cut out for them and so do their opponents. Chelsea’s frailties in defense were highlighted in the 3 all draw against Southampton and Lopetegui and his men will be looking to take advantage of them.
The Blues were solid with Edouard Mendy between the sticks and Thiago Silva marshaling the defense last time out against Crystal Palace just before the international break.
However, the goalie played no part against Southampton due to an injury and may not be available against Sevilla. However, Thiago Silva, who was rested during the weekend should start in this one.
Meanwhile, although Frank Lampard hasn’t been openly critical of Kepa Arrizabalaga’s performances, it remains to be seen who’ll be handed a start between the Spaniard and Willy Caballero.
The Blues have also seen some key figures in Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic return to action. However, their offensive threat will count for nothing if the defense can’t shut up shop and keep the opponents at bay.
Funny enough, I can bet that this will be a gargantuan task against a balanced side like Sevilla. I don’t see Chelsea keeping a clean sheet against the Spaniards and this will be a huge factor on who comes out tops on the night.
Sevilla will miss the services of Jules Kounde who recently tested positive for coronavirus. Asides from that, the rest of the squad are in good shape and raring to go against the Blues. The possible lineups for both teams:
Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Kepa; James, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell; Kovacic, Jorginho; Mount, Havertz, Pulisic; Werner
Sevilla possible starting lineup:
Bounou; Navas, Rekik, Carlos, Acuna; Rakitic, Fernando, Jordan; Ocampos, De Jong, Suso
This game will provide fireworks as both sides have decent firepower. However, it remains to be seen if Chelsea can show the character to amass all three points as they will be eager to begin their 2020/21 UCL on a high.
Regardless, Sevilla are a very strong side and will also be looking to get a result. I’ll go with a draw in this one albeit dependent on if Chelsea can turn up. This is a very tricky game where the away side have the chance of nicking all three points.