Having started their Europa League campaign with a 1-0 win over Greek side PAOK, a more straightforward victory is expected against the Hungarian minnows at Stamford Bridge. Eden Hazard will lead the list of absentees as Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri prepares to rest a number of his star players for the Europa League clash against MOL Vidi on Thursday (kick-off 8 pm).
Vidi lost their opening group-stage match at home to BATE Borisov 2-0 and are not expected to cause Sarri’s side many problems. Hazard was allowed to stay at home when Chelsea travelled to Greece last month after citing fatigue, and Sarri is expected to leave the Belgian in the stands for the second group game.
The playmaker could be joined by a host of stellar names given the night off ahead of Chelsea’s trip to face Southampton in the Premier League, live on Super Sunday. Victor Moses, Emerson Palmieri and Davide Zappacosta are among the other squad players looking for a start while Callum Hudson-Odoi could make his first appearance since the Community Shield defeat to Manchester City.
Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek is closing in on a return but is unlikely to be risked while Pedro (shoulder) and Andreas Christensen (illness) are doubts.
Cesc Fabregas will hope to get some playing time under his belt after recently returning to first-team training. Gary Cahill is expected to be handed a start after being a surprise omission from the starting XI against PAOK.
Alvaro Morata is expected to start up front while Ross Barkley will also be handed another opportunity in what is expected to be a severely weakened Chelsea line-up.
- This is Chelsea’s first match against MOL Vidi and they are first against Hungarian opponents in their entire history.
- MOL Vidi last faced English opposition in March 1985 in the UEFA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United – after a 1-1 aggregate draw, the Hungarians progressed on penalties.
- Chelsea has never lost a single home European match (excluding qualifiers) in a competition other than the Champions League (P35 W28 D7 L0).
- MOL Vidi hasn’t won any of their last six away UEFA Cup/Europa League matches, drawing one and losing five since winning 1-0 against Real Madrid in the second leg of the 1984-85 UEFA Cup final.
- Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata had seven shots on MD1, more than any other player – despite this, none of these shots was on target
Source: Sky Sports