Premier League holders Chelsea will make their Champions League group stage bow against newcomers Qarabag on Tuesday night. The Blues are returning to the elite competition after a year’s absence, but they will be hoping to get off to a strong start. With AS Roma and Atletico Madrid also in their group, the Blues can expect no favour, and they will have to earn their route to the knockout phase.
Antonio Conte could possibly tweak the formation for the Champions League clash with a number of first-team regulars likely to be rested. Qarabag are relatively weak opponents compared to the west London giants, and there could be a mix between regular and fringe players.
Conte appeared to favour his second-choice goalkeeper during the early stages of the Cup competition last term, and it could be a similar case with Willy Caballero likely to make his Blues debut.
Captain Gary Cahill will probably return to the lineup after a three-match break due to his domestic ban, and he could be accompanied by Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rudiger at the back.
Davide Zappacosta could earn his first start in the right wing-back spot with Marcos Alonso likely to keep his place in the opposite direction. Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante could be paired together once more following their impressive performance in the 2-1 triumph over Leicester City.
With Eden Hazard still short of full fitness, Conte could be tempted to play Cesc Fabregas in a slightly advanced role alongside Willian. Alvaro Morata has notched three goals in his opening four games for the Blues, but Michy Batshuayi could get the nod versus the Azerbaijani champions.
Batshuayi has been a regular from the substitutes’ bench since the Premier League opener against Burnley, but he could get a lifeline to prove himself in what is probably the easiest game in the group.
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