Chelsea's Champions League preview
The Champions League returns this week as a number of Europe’s best sides lock horns once again. Antonio Conte’s Chelsea are one such team back in action and they go into their game with Atletico Madrid in good form. A 0-0 draw with Arsenal was followed by a 4-0 win over Stoke which has seen the London side climb up to third in the league with 13 points, just three behind the two Manchester sides.
Alvaro Morata goes into the game following a hat-trick against Stoke, while Eden Hazard seems on the verge of full fitness following a lengthy injury absence. In their last Champions League game, the London side hammered Qarabag 6-0 to go top of Group C.
Across the rest of Europe, there are some massive games to come. From a British perspective, Manchester United face a long trip to Russia to face CSKA Moscow on Wednesday, while Liverpool make a similar trip the day before to play Spartak Moscow. United marked their return to the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Basel, so another victory would see them extend their lead at the top, while Liverpool are looking for their first win of the European campaign following a 2-2 draw with Sevilla in matchday one. Back in England, Manchester City host Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday as they look to build upon their fantastic 4-0 win over Feyenoord in their first game.
The big games across Europe mostly happen in Group H though. Tottenham face Apoel Nicosia following their superb 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their first game, but their match against the group minnows is made very important as Spurs’ next game sees them play double-European champions Real Madrid. German side Dortmund currently find themselves top of the Bundesliga, while Madrid languish in sixth in La Liga. Cristiano Ronaldo and co will be desperate to get back to winning ways, while Dortmund can’t afford to lose more ground on the top two.
The biggest game on Wednesday comes in the form of Paris Saint-Germain’s game against Bayern Munich. The French side are still looking to really compete on the European stage but, with Neymar in superb form, the French side will be confident ahead of their game. Bayern, on the other hand, find themselves in the unknown position of sitting in third in their domestic league, but they are joint top of their Champions League group. A win for either side would really cement their power at the top of Group B, although it is still very much early days.
For Chelsea, their focus is very much on Atletico Madrid and not the rest of Europe. The Blues go into the game in good form, but so do Atleti. Diego Simeone’s side have won four games, drawn two and are yet to lose in the league as they look to chase down leaders Barcelona. The game in Spain is likely to be one which sees two very well matched sides do battle. With Roma also in the group, both teams will be desperate to take all three points as the group is likely to go right down to the wire, while the past might rear its head before the game as there are rumours that Diego Costa may be paraded before the game, although these are unconfirmed.