Chelsea travel to the venue of the 2014 Champions League final to take on Sporting Clube de Portugal in the second match of their European journey this season. Jose Mourinho will look to get all three points from this match after failing to pick up a home win against Schalke in the first match of their campaign in Group G. It will be a homecoming of sorts for the Portugese manager as he returns to the club where he worked as Bobby Robson’s assistant in the 90’s. Let’s take a look at the team which could take the field in Lisbon this evening.
Thibaut Courtois has well and truly established himself as the No.1 goalkeeper this season and would be looking to improve his clean sheet record after only recording his second blank on Saturday against Villa.
Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta.
The back four has a familiar look about it with the rampaging Branislav Ivanovic providing the attacking ammunition as well as defensive discipline down the right flank. The partnership of Gary Cahill and John Terry was the bed rock of Chelsea’s UCL winning campaign in 2012 and the duo continue at the heart of the defence. Cesar Azpilicueta was the revelation at left back last season and having chipped in with an assist for the in-form Costa in the weekend, the Spaniard must be raring to go.
Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard.
Nemanja Matic has provided that much needed balance in the middle of the park , but should guard against positional errors as the Serbian was caught napping in forward areas on several occasions in recent games against Everton and Manchester City. Cesc Fabregas’ game has flourished alongside an anchoring player of Matic’s ability and the Spaniard’s ability to pick that perfect pass will be pivotal to Chelsea’s campaign. Oscar has been on a scoring streak in recent games, and given the Brazilian’s best performances in the blue of Chelsea have come in the Champions League, he should get the nod to start this one in the No.10 role.
Willian and Hazard look the most likely to occupy the wide positions in the attacking threesome in front of Matic and Fabregas, with the Brazilian’s recent impressive performances tipping the scales in his favor. While Eden Hazard’s patchy form has come under the scanner, Jose admitted that he wasn’t too worried by Hazard’s performances and dismissed his poor Villa display as just one of those days when things don’t click. “It was not his day,” said the Chelsea manager.
Diego Costa has found the net for fun in recent matches in the Premier League, and with a crunch encounter against Arsenal looming on the horizon, Costa’s muscle problem is unlikely to be risked from the start. Loic Remy should get his first start in the Champions League for the Blues.