Chelsea travel to Baku, Azerbaijan, to play against Qarabag FK as they look to qualify for the next round of the Champions League, in the knowledge that a win would be enough to see them through.
Antonio Conte’s men are coming off the back of a solid performance against West Bromwich Albion at the weekend, where they managed to shift four goals against the Baggies, and will be looking to carry on the momentum for the 5,000-mile round-trip.
The Blues were not short of goals when the Azeri outfit visited Stamford Bridge, as they stormed to a 6-0 victory and they will be hoping for much more of the same come Wednesday evening.
The Italian manager is considering using a strong starting XI for their clash, having made the claims that this fixture is the most important match of the season so far, however, a trip to Anfield on Saturday to play against Liverpool could also be in the back of his mind.
Eden Hazard, N’Golo Kante and Cesc Fabregas were all substituted during the victory against the Baggies last weekend, although the changes all looked tactical, as Conte appeared to already have one eye on their trip across Europe.
Alvaro Morata reproduced some of his best form since joining the club in the summer from Real Madrid, scoring and also providing a wonderful assist for Hazard’s first of the evening, and the Spaniard will be keen to push on after his spell on the sidelines.
Chelsea will, however, still be without Victor Moses for the Group Stage match as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury that has ruled him out for the past six weeks, having limped out of their Premier League match with Crystal Palace.
Michy Batshauyi, Charley Musonda and Kenedy are the others to miss the trip to the Azerbaijan capital as Conte’s side go for the three points to assure their place in the next round.
Potential Starting XI: Courtois; Cahill, Christiansen, Azpilicueta; Fabregas, Kante, Bakayoko, Alonso; Pedro, Hazard, Morata.
‘The Horsemen’ will be able to welcome back South Africa forward Dino Ndlovu after he served a one-game ban, having been sent off against Atletico Madrid in their impressive 0-0 draw.
However, Gurban Gurbanov will be without Pedro Henrique after he was sent off in the return fixture with the Spanish giants – another game they managed to earn a point from, this time as a 1-1 draw.
Qarabag will be hoping that their previous encounter with Chelsea will not be replicated and that a factor of tiredness can kick in, especially with the long travel the Blues have had to undertake.
Potential Starting XI: Sehic; Medvedev, Huseynov, Sadiqov, Rzezniczak; Qarayev; Elyounoussi, Almeida, Michel, Guerrier; Ndlovu.
The two sides have only previously met just the once before and many are expecting a comfortable result for the Premier League side, however, the Azerbaijan outfit has been performing at the highest standard domestically and currently top their table, having suffered just the one defeat.