Chelsea travel to Zenit Saint Petersburg for the clubs’ final Group H contest on Wednesday. Can the Blues take three points, or will the Russians spoil the party?
Champions League holders, Chelsea, will be seeking to finish top of Group H with an away win against Zenit Saint Petersburg on Wednesday night.
The hosts are already heading for the Europa League, after a 1-1 with Malmö last time out ensured the Russian club a third-place finish in the group.
For Zenit, Stanislav Kritsyuk is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after undergoing knee surgery, so Mikhail Kerzhakov should feature in goal again.
Centre-back, Dmitri Chistyakov, is suspended for Sergei Semak’s side, after seeing red in the draw at Malmö. Colombian midfielder, Wilmar Barrios, could therefore move into the back three, to team up with Dejan Lovren and Yaroslav Rakitskiy.
Iranian star forward, Sardar Azmoun, is pushing for a start. However, the attacking trio of Malcom, Claudinho and Artem Dzyuba are expected to keep their places from the first whistle.
Chelsea must cope without Ben Chilwell and N’Golo Kanté, due to ACL and knee issues respectively. Meanwhile, Trevor Chalobah, and Mateo Kovačić are both absent with hamstring problems.
Kai Havertz (ankle) and Marcos Alonso (back) are also unlikely to feature, after coming off in the Blues’ defeat at West Ham United last Saturday.
In the absence of both Chilwell and Alonso, Saúl Ñíguez or Reece James could be handed a start in the left wing-back position. If Chelsea boss, Thomas Tuchel, opts for James, expect to see César Azpilicueta slot in at right wing-back.
Zenit will be fired up and ready to face the Champions League holders, but Chelsea have more to play for on Wednesday night, as they aim to finish top of the group.
Tuchel is likely to name a strong side at the Krestovsky Stadium, which should have enough quality to ultimately stroll to victory. Our prediction is 2-0 to Chelsea, with both goals netted in the second half.
Zenit St Petersburg possible starting XI:
Kerzhakov; Barrios, Lovren, Rakitskyi; Karavaev, Kuzyaev, Wendel, Santos; Malcom, Dzyuba, Claudinho
Chelsea possible starting XI:
Mendy; Christensen, Silva, Rüdiger; Azpilicueta, Loftus-Cheek, Jorginho, James; Mount, Ziyech; Lukaku