Blues return to Europe’s biggest club competition as they host Azerbaijani side at Stamford Bridge but will have to make some changes with Arsenal clash coming up on Sunday
SO here it is then, Chelsea finally make their return to the glitz and glamour of the Champions League.
The yearlong absence more than helped us in our march to the Premier League last season.
Our first opponents represent none of the glitz or glamour normally associated with the competition, hailing from Azerbaijan.
FK Qarabag are competing in the Champions League for the first time.
Although they’ve made the UEFA Cup group stages three years in a row and so are no strangers to European competition, they should still represent the least challenging of our group stage opponents.
Conte has already confirmed that Hazard and Morata will start on the bench, and new boy Danny Drinkwater will miss out due to an injury he picked up in training.
Gary Cahill isn’t suspended for European competition but given the teams form recently, may struggle to get into the side although that could work in his favour as Conte looks to rotate the players and make use of the squad he has available.
With Arsenal on the horizon and the match against Leicester starting a run of seven games in 21 days, expect to see players such as Andreas Christensen, Davide Zappacosta and Michy Batshuayi starting the match.
And possibly joined by Charly Musonda if the players Instagram is anything to go by.
Rotation isn’t something we’re used to seeing from Conte though.
Last season he used the fewest number of players in the league and preferred to rotate no more than a handful of players as form dipped, or injuries and suspensions took their toll.
This season he will have to change his ways simply due to the demands of being in four competitions, and will have to learn to trust more of his squad to do a job than those he trusted last season.
Between now and the end of the month, we have to play Qarabag, Arsenal, Nottingham Forest, Stoke, Atletico Madrid and Manchester City, although only have to travel for Stoke and Atletico, this will give us a good indication as to how our squad will cope later in the season.
A lot has been written about our summer transfer dealings, myself included!
?Latest Champions League odds?
SUN BETS ARE ? PRICE FOR BRITISH CLUBS IN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
- Man United to beat Basel: 2/13
- Chelsea to beat FC Qarabag: 1/12
- Liverpool to beat Sevilla: 8/11
- Man City to beat Feyenoord: 2/5
With the transfer window now firmly closed the focus shifts to making the most of what we have, rather than looking at what we can go out and get to improve.
This is where Conte excelled last season, taking a group of players and getting the absolute maximum out of them, all working together and executing his plan and system to near perfection at times.
This is what good managers do, make the best of what they have rather than complain about what they don’t.
It may not be glitzy or glamorous, but against Qarabag we should get a glimpse into just how Conte, and Chelsea, are going to adapt and adjust for the season ahead.
The summer transfer window was one the craziest we have ever seen.
Take a look at the most profitable transfers of ALL time.
And here are the Premier League players whose wages made them the most expensive per minute played.