The 2020-21 Champions League campaign kicks off tonight, and Chelsea will be hosting Sevilla at Stamford Bridge and hope to secure all three points as they look to emerge top of Group E ahead of the round-of-16.
Rennes and Krasnodar are the other teams in the group, and the Blues will fancy their chances of booking a place in the last-16 after doing so last term before getting eliminated at the hands of Bayern Munich in the knockout stage.
Finishing second behind Valencia in Group H saw Chelsea draw the Bundesliga giants in the last-16, and they have to top their group this time around to prevent such a scenario.
On paper, Sevilla stand between Frank Lampard’s side and that top spot, though, and the La Liga giants are one of the teams to watch out for this season after they lifted the Europa League last term.
They went toe-to-toe with Bayern in the UEFA Super Cup clash, and the Germans needed an extra-time goal to secure a 2-1 win in a keenly-contested clash.
Sevilla have started the La Liga campaign with two victories, a draw and a loss at the weekend, and they will be keen to prove their quality on the continental stage by securing a win at Chelsea’s expense.
The Blues have won twice in the Premier League campaign so far, losing once and drawing twice.
They have managed to keep just one clean sheet, shipping nine goals in those five league games, and their defensive frailties should be a huge concern for Lampard ahead of tonight’s clash.
The potential return of goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and veteran centre-back Thiago Silva to the Chelsea defence for the game is a huge boost after the duo missed Saturday’s 3-3 draw against Southampton.
Sevilla will be without French centre-back Jules Kounde who tested positive for COVID-19 last week, while Spanish left-back Sergio Escudero could also miss out on the clash after lasting just 18 minutes before coming off at the weekend.
Kepa Arrizabalaga didn’t cover himself in glory against Southampton at the weekend, and Mendy is expected to return to the starting line-up if fully fit.
Silva missed out of the clash after Lampard decided to rest him following his travels with Brazil during the international break, and he is expected to return today, with Kurt Zouma likely to play alongside him ahead of Andreas Christensen.
Predicted Chelsea XI
Azpilicueta, Silva, Zouma, Chilwell
Ziyech, Havertz, Mount
Predicted Sevilla XI
Acuna, Carlos, Gomez, Navas
Rakitic, Fernando, Jordan
Ocampos, Jong, Suso