Chelsea may have already guaranteed Champions League football next season after securing at least a top four place in the Premier League, but his doesn’t mean that the Blues are about to let up in their Europa League Semi-final second-leg clash with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Winning the Europa League was once about securing Champions League football next season, now it has become about Maurizio Sarri winning his first trophy in his otherwise impressive managerial career. A top four finish and a Europa League trophy would make it a hugely successful season for the Blues.
What has happened
The first-leg was a strange one for Chelsea; they started horrendously and would have felt lucky to head down the tunnel for half-time only one goal behind thanks to the in-form Luka Jovic.
But, a spirited second-half performance accompanying a goal from Pedro levelled the score and indeed tie with Chelsea gaining the slight but all-important away goal in Germany.
It won’t be easy
Frankfurt have already proved that they are a side not to be reckoned with. Chelsea supporters may have been booking their ticket to the final on hearing the news they had the Bundesliga outfit in the semi-final.
This was proved utterly naïve and to disregard the side at Stamford Bridge would be a grave mistake. Chelsea, though, can now go full strength after securing top four. Sarri rested Eden Hazard in the first meeting between the two sides due to fear of fatigue but will be sure not to make the same mistake this time around.
It isn’t too great for Chelsea supporters. The high demands of juggling the Premier League and Europa League have hit the team hard in the closing stages of the campaign.
N’Golo Kante went off injured in Chelsea’s last match with a hamstring injury and is feared to miss the end of the season. Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi also have long term injuries which will see them sidelined for the remainder of the season.
To make matters worse, it is feared that Gary Cahill and David Luiz are both carrying knocks. This may leave Chelsea very short at the back.
Frankfurt are still waiting on the news on the fitness of Sebastien Haller. It is worth mentioning that the Frenchman has bagged 14 goals this season. Besides this, Frankfurt have no injury concerns and will be a near full strength outfit on Thursday.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson, Jorginho, Kovacic, Loftus-Cheek, Hazard, Pedro, Giroud
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp, Abraham, Hinteregger, Hasebe, Da Costa, Fernandes, Rode, Kostic, Gacinovic, Jovic, Rebic
Chelsea, despite their injury concerns, will head into their final Europa League match at Stamford Bridge this season with considerable confidence.
The side, as well as finishing top four, are heading into the game off the back of an emphatic 3-0 victory against Watford.
Frankfurt are at the other end of the scale after they ended a run of three straight draws with desperately disappointing 6-1 loss against top-four challengers Bayer Leverkusen.
In bizarre circumstances, all seven goals were netted before half-time in which Chelsea’s opponents shared an embarrassing 18% possession.
The timing for Chelsea, it would seem, could not be any better. This is a major chance for a shot at a first major title under Sarri in what would be a huge boost for the club.