High flying Chelsea welcome Bulgarian giants BATE Borisov to Stamford Bridge on thursday in a match certain to guarantee their progression into the knockout stages of the Europa League. This is coming after back to back Euro League wins against PAOK Thessaloniki and Vidi FC.
The match is also important for BATE Borisov who are seeeking their second win of the competition after two games. The Bulagrian side defeated Vidi 2-0 to get their first 3 points at the opening day but lost the last match against PAOK on matchday 2.
The Blues have started with 100% record in the Europa league this season. Dispatching both opposition has been the handiwork of Maurizio Sarri, whose famous “SarriBall” has won many hearts. Intense passing, pressing, possession football and high-line defending have been Chelsea’s characteristic this season.
However, it hasnt been all rosy in European competitios for Chelsea. That narrow victory over Vidi ended a run of three successive European home draws for the Blues, who are unbeaten at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League and Europa League since September 2013 – a run spanning 12 matches.
The last time the blues were in the Europa League, they won it under Rafael Benitez, although they didnt have to go through the grueling group stage.
Eden Hazard came off the bench against Vidi last matchday and he will be instrumental in tomorrow’s game. Ruben Loftus Cheek and maybe Emerson Palmieri may be called into the starting line-up as Sarri rotates his team. There could also be starts for Gary Cahill and Victor Moses.
Chelsea possible starting lineup against BATE includes…
Kepa; Zappacosta, Cahill, Christensen, Emerson; Loftus-Cheek, Fabregas, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Willian
The Bulgarian champions have started shakily by winning a match and losing another, 4-1against PAOK. They will be looking to put their blushes behind by battling against a more star-studded Chelsea side at the Bridge.
Victory over Vidi in Hungary ended a four match winless run for Borisov in terms of away wins in the Europa League group stage, leaving them with a pretty mixed return of three wins, three draws and four defeats from such fixtures.
BATE are 12-time champions of Belarus, and they could even wrap up the title in the coming weeks, providing a welcome boost ahead of some key European fixtures – starting with this trip to the English capital.
Vladislav Malkevich and Vladislav Mukhamedov are sidelined due to injury. Dmitry Baga and Evgeni Yablonski are potential starters as the Belarusian side may play a defensive formation
BATE Borisov possible starting lineup against Chelsea include…..
Scherbitski; Polyakov, Milunovic, Filipenko, Volodko; Ivanic, Dragun, Yablonski, Baga, Stasevich; Tuominen
Head to Head
Chelsea and BATE have never previously met in UEFA competition. Indeed, the Blues have never faced any opponent from Belarus.