Thomas Tuchel’s next Chelsea team selection may his most important to date, with a testing tie against Atletico Madrid looming over the horizon.
Their dress rehearsal for this Champions League knockout clash did not go exactly to plan.
A 1-1 draw with Southampton was not the worst outcome for Chelsea, especially as it stretched their unbeaten run under Tuchel to seven matches.
But the manner of their performance certainly displeased the coach and he will demand a massive reaction from his side on Tuesday.
Despite their generally lacklustre display versus Southampton, there won’t be overriding changes to the Blues starting line-up when they play Atletico.
Tuchel will stick to his word by maintaining Edouard Mendy in goal.
Perhaps the most significant inclusion is that of Thiago Silva’s presence back in defence.
Chelsea’s £110,000 per-week (Spotrac) Brazilian has been out since he suffered a thigh problem at Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month.
Although Andreas Christensen and Kurt Zouma have done a decent job in his absence, Tuchel will need his most experienced player who’s had plenty of previous European action at this level.
Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger remain alongside Silva as part of the back three.
There are no alterations from the midfield that started at Southampton.
Reece James and Marcos Alonso stay at wing-back, whilst N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic continue to partner one another centrally.
Timo Werner and Mason Mount also to keep their place just behind the main striker.
Mount’s influence was clear again last weekend and tomorrow’s game provides an excellent opportunity to prove his quality on football’s grandest European stage.
Although Werner was very quiet at Saint Mary’s, his ability to run beyond defences could be an important weapon as Chelsea try to conquer Atletico’s compact rear-guard.
Olivier Giroud in for Tammy Abraham is the only other major modification.
Abraham was dragged off at half-time by Tuchel. Chelsea’s coach explained that the 23-year-old had been unable to ‘put his stamp on this game’ (BT Sport).
Giroud still has plenty to offer and could be vital to countering Madrid’s corporal approach.
Chelsea predicted XI vs Atletico Madrid: Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Giroud, Werner