After a year away, Chelsea return to the Champions League, with Azerbaijani side Qarabag FK the first side the Blues will play.
In this year’s competition, the Blues were drawn alongside Atletico Madrid, AS Roma, as well as Qarabag, in a group that Chelsea will have to play very well in to have a chance of topping. Despite being drawn in a particularly tough group, Chelsea can be confident as the Blues have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League 13 times in their previous 14 campaigns.
Tuesday night sees the competition return, and Antonio Conte’s side face the Azerbaijani champions Qarabag.
Chelsea are in good form coming into the midweek fixture, winning their last three Premier League fixtures. Alvaro Morata and N’Golo Kante scored as they beat Leicester 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
Antonio Conte has already confirmed that Eden Hazard will not be starting the game, as the Belgian continues his return from an ankle injury. Deadline Day signing Danny Drinkwater will have to wait a little bit longer for his Chelsea debut, with the Englishman ruled out through a calf injury.
Gary Cahill could return to the Chelsea line-up after missing the last three games through suspension, as Conte looks set to rotate his side. The likes of Davide Zappacosta, Andreas Christensen, and Michy Batshauyi could be given starts, with the Blues manager keeping an eye on Sunday’s fixture against Arsenal.
Qarabag’s Champions League campaign started back in July, in the second qualifying round. A 6-0 aggregate win over Georgian side Samtredia saw them easily progress, meeting Sheriff Tiraspol in the next round. They were 2-1 winners over the Moldovan side. In the play-off round, they were drawn against Danish side FC Copenhagen. An away goal in the Danish capital from Dino Ndlovu saw the Azerbaijani side reach the group stage for the very first time.
The Champions League is back at Stamford Bridge, and Chelsea will hope to get their European campaign off to the best possible start: a win versus Qarabag.