The two teams left in Champions League Group C clash at Zenit St. Petersburg tonight with Chelsea in need of a win and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte set to face the man he should have left in the summer. Here’s all the news ahead of the biggest European night of the season so far:
Chelsea v Zenit St. Petersburg: Team news
Antonio Conte will be without Chelsea’s Diego Costa as he serves the second of his three-match suspension. Diego Costa was initially banned for two games after a melee involving himself and an assistant coach at Swansea City and Conte has refused to grant his request to rejoin Chelsea. Costa has been in good form as of late, scoring the equalizer in Chelsea’s last match against West Bromwich Albion. He is likely to start at wing-back for the Russian side tonight.
Christian Pulisic, who has been ruled out of the U.S. international’s appearance in the World Cup after picking up an injury, is back on the radar for the National Team. The teenage international has impressed the Chelsea manager Conte in training so far this week and has been vying for a place in the starting lineup. In the system that Chelsea has used to this point this season, club captain Gary Cahill and Brazilian defender David Luiz are expected to play in a 4-2-3-1.
Timothee Kolodziejczak, the Russian striker who is thought to be heading to Stamford Bridge next summer in a deal that could be worth as much as £30 million ($40 million), is unlikely to be in the starting lineup tonight. Confirmation of the striker’s impending departure from Zenit has not been confirmed by the club, but it is assumed to be a formality.
Portuguese striker Andre Silva appears in line to get a chance in the Chelsea side after Michy Batshuayi failed to impress in his two starts so far this season. Batshuayi’s starting partner at the club this season seems likely to be Alvaro Morata, who has two goals in his three starts so far.
Zenit St. Petersburg v Chelsea: Prediction and odds
Antonio Conte’s Chelsea will be eyeing maximum points tonight, but recent form is far from flattering the Champions. In a six-game winless streak, the Italian side has failed to score in seven of those games. From here on in, Chelsea will have to work hard to rack up as many goals as they can.
The Blues boast attacking strength throughout their side. However, their inability to finish off their chances has been a common culprit. Both Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante have scored in the Champions League for Chelsea but the team’s tally in Group C is zero. Their struggles in front of goal could be blamed on the defense as well.
Juventus still top the group, but the gap between the Italian powerhouse and Chelsea has been reduced significantly thanks to their late run in Europe. Roma could emerge victorious from Group C, but if the Italians fall to both the Swiss side Young Boys and the Dutch outfit Feyenoord, then Chelsea will end the first round of matches in the tournament on top of the standings.
Chelsea have gone undefeated in their last four games and have not conceded a goal in their last 200 minutes of football. However, Chelsea will still need to rely on other areas of their game in order to leave St. Petersburg victorious.
Pellegrini will be concerned with his back line and the lethal threat of Eden Hazard, who has four goals this season. Chelsea look far more potent with a Hazard on the pitch.
Match will be live on BT Sport 2
Napoli vs Shakhtar Donetsk: Team news
Napoli and Shakhtar play at Stadio San Paolo tonight in Group D, with little separating the Italian club and their Ukrainian opponents. Both sides have gone unbeaten in their four group games, but have kept just one clean sheet between them in the group stage.
Ivory Coast forward Dries Mertens looks set to be included in the lineup tonight. He has been an ever-present for Napoli so far this season, but he is set to replace Jose Callejon in the starting XI. Callejon is expected to make way for Mertens because of an ankle injury that he picked up in training.
Playmaker Renato Sanches will be one of the keys for Shakhtar. The German international has five goals and nine assists in 12 appearances for the Ukrainian side so far this season. Although Mertens and Sanches will be the