Chelsea return to Europa League action on Thursday night when they welcome Belarusian side BATE Borisov to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have a perfect record so far, with two 1-0 victories over PAOK and Vidi, and are also unbeaten in the Premier League after snatching a 2-2 draw against Manchester United.
On the other hand, BATE have won one and lost one, yet there should be no underestimating Thursday’s visitors. BATE have won an incredible 12 Belarusian Premier League titles in a row, and currently sit top of the table with six games to go.
With first place taking on second in Group L, here is everything you need to know about Thursday’s game.
|When?||Thursday 25 October @ 20:00 (BST)|
|How Can I Watch?||BT Sport 2|
Chelsea are doing brilliantly currently, placed third in the Premier League following their last gasp victory. They're undefeated in all competitions and have showed true grit on several occasions, including the 2-2 United draw.
Borisov are, unsurprisingly, top of their country's Premier League, having won 19 of their 24 games, and are nine points clear of second placed Shakhtyor Soligorsk.
The two teams have never played each other before, but the visitors have visited England in the past.
In 2009 they secured a historic win, defeating Everton 1-0 at Goodison Park. However, their second visit to England was less successful, as Arsenal smashed them 6-0 in last year’s group stage.
Alvaro Morata vs Yegor Filipenko
Morata broke his scoring duck when he netted the winner against Vidi, yet his emotions were muted as he looked to be in tears.
He has really struggled over the past 12 months, but a strong outing against BATE could truly reignite the Spaniard’s confidence.
Thursday’s match will see him face off against Yegor Filipenko, BATE’s rock solid defender.
Currently in his fourth spell with the club, the 30-year-old has also scored during their Europa League campaign. The duel of a powerful centre back against a struggling striker will be an interesting one.
Andreas Christensen vs Jasse Tuominen
With Christensen’s complaints about a lack of game time, proving himself to Sarri in these opportunities is vital. A shaky game against Vidi didn’t help his case, but hopefully the young academy product can turn his form around.
He’ll be handling BATE’s frontman Jasse Tuominen on Thursday. The Finnish striker is already making headlines, having scored in their Europa League opener.
Just 22 years of age, he has a big chance to introduce himself to Europe as he faces one of the continent’s finest teams at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will miss Ethan Ampadu, who picked up an injury during the international break. However, the big news is that Eden Hazard is reportedly a concern, as he could miss Thursday’s game as well as Sunday’s trip to Burnley.
He suffered a slight injury to his lower back in the 2-2 draw against Manchester United. However, it is unlikely that he was going to feature against BATE in the first place.
Former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexander Hleb is also a doubt, as he continues to recover from injury. He has played just 20 minutes in BATE’s Europa League campaign, coming on as a substitute in their 4-1 defeat to PAOK.
BATE Borisov (4-1-4-1): Scherbitski; Filipovic, Polyakov, Filipenko, Milunovic; Yablonski; Baga, Dragun, Ivanic, Stasevich; Tuominen.
Chelsea are the clear favourites to get all three points yet again, but that has not been so straightforward so far in the competition. Although the Blues have picked up maximum points, the games against PAOK and Vidi should have finished in more convincing fashion.
BATE will come to London looking to bounce back from their 4-1 loss in their previous game against PAOK, and will hope to claim a historic win in the capital.
However, Chelsea will get all three points again. They will undoubtedly have one eye on Sunday’s game against Burnley, but Sarri is unlikely to go easy when they welcome their Belarusian counterparts to Stamford Bridge.
Prediction: Chelsea 3-0 BATE Borisov