Ridiculed by many, Chelsea should have serious ambitions about winning the Europa League
As Europe’s second tier competition, the Europa League is often looked down upon.
The gruelling schedule and the long away trips causes managers to rest their star players in the early rounds.
And these players are only rolled out if a team happens to find itself in the latter stages of the tournament.
Often cited as a reason for a team’s poor form, the Europa League promises great rewards if exploited.
Because of the weaker standard of teams, the big clubs shouldn’t really need their best players to progress from the groups.
Rotation, rotation, rotation
Drawn in a group with PAOK, Mol Vidi and BATE Borisov, Maurizio Sarri has squad rotation on his mind.
Key players Eden Hazard and David Luiz have been left in London as the team travels to Thessaloniki to face PAOK.
As a result, fringe players will be eager to get a chance to impress Sarri.
Ross Barkley, Andreas Christensen, Davide Zappacosta and Willian could all start having struggled for minutes so far.
Play yourself back into form
The Europa League also offers an opportunity for players to regain lost form.
Alvaro Morata is a good case study.
The Spaniard has struggled so far in the Premier League, with Sarri eventually dropping him for Olivier Giroud on Saturday.
But he will get the start on Thursday against PAOK, and if he does well, could reclaim the managers trust.
Route into Champions League
Chelsea have had an excellent start to the season, winning five from five.
But if all was to fall apart and they were to fall out of the top four, the Europa League could be their saving grace.
A final appearance almost guarantees Champions League football in the following season, and would definitely appease the Chelsea faithful.