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Andreas Christensen / Antonio Rudiger / Blog / Callum Hudson-Odoi / Chelsea / David Luiz / Eden Hazard / Emerson Palmieri / Europa League / Football / Gary Cahill / Jindrich Trpisovsky / Kepa Arrizabalaga / Marcos Alonso / Maurizio Sarri / Miroslav Stoch / N'Golo Kante / Olivier Giroud / Pedro / Petr Sevcik / Ross Barkley / Ruben Loftus-Cheek / Slavia Prague / Tomas Soucek / Willian

Preview: Chelsea vs. Slavia Prague – prediction, team news, lineups

Preview: Chelsea vs. Slavia Prague – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the second leg of the Europa League last-eight clash between Chelsea and Slavia Prague.

Chelsea head into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague on Thursday night looking to build on their narrow success last week.

Slavia matched their more illustrious opponents for much of the game in the Czech Republic, but a late header from Marcos Alonso gave the Blues a 1-0 victory.


Chelsea

© Reuters

Maurizio Sarri has targets to meet in two competitions, but the 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon may just lead to the Italian showing more priority to success on the European scene.

Chelsea are again outsiders to claim a top-four place in the league standings, but the Blues are in a strong position to move through to a semi-final tie with either Benfica or Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.

Sarri would have been disappointed with his side’s overall performance against Slavia last week, and it led to the likes of Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante being introduced in the second half.

However, Alonso’s late goal could prove to be the difference in this tie, and it would come as a surprise if Sarri does not opt to name a strong starting lineup at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea’s defeat at Anfield ended a run of four successive wins in all competitions, but the West Londoners are still yet to suffer defeat in 11 matches in the Europa League.

Four clean sheets in a row have also been recorded, but an injury to Antonio Rudiger may lead to Sarri having to throw more caution to the wind in a bid to improve Chelsea’s strike-rate in front of goal.

More opportunities have been created since Sarri tinkered with his tried-and-trusted system, but Chelsea are still missing too many chances when they get the ball into the penalty area.

That may not prove to be as decisive against Slavia rather than versus one of their rivals in the Premier League, but Chelsea will only qualify for next season’s Champions League if they find a better solution going forward.

Recent form: DWWWWW
Recent form (all competitions): LWWWWL


Slavia Prague

Slavia Prague celebrate scoring against Zenit St Petersburg in Europa League on December 13, 2018.© Reuters

Slavia impressed many observers with their display against Chelsea last week, but the leaders of the Czech top flight face an uphill task in order to reach the last four of a European competition for the first time since 1995.

Jindrich Trpisovsky instructed his side to put their visitors under pressure, and it took a number of strong saves from Kepa Arrizabalaga to keep the Cervenobili at bay.

Nevertheless, Slavia will still believe that they can progress from this tie, and six goals have been netted in their previous two away fixtures in this competition.

Slavia came from behind to score four times against Genk at the last-32 stage, while they also found the back of the net on two occasions when playing Sevilla in Spain.

That return should ensure that Chelsea are not complacent ahead of this fixture, but the Blues will also be wary that they cannot afford to push too many players forward in an attempt to wrap up the win.

Slavia have been in fine form on the domestic scene with 17 points being registered from their last seven outings, although they were held to a 1-1 draw against city rivals Sparta Prague at the weekend.

Tomas Soucek was the player who was on target for Slavia, and the Czech Republic international was a big miss for Trpisovsky during the first leg.

Soucek and former Chelsea attacker Miroslav Stoch have netted 22 goals between them in the league this season, but this is a well-rounded side who have scored from all areas of the pitch throughout this season.

Recent form: WDWDWL
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWLD


Team News

Antonio Rudiger in action for Chelsea on November 4, 2018© Reuters

Chelsea will be without Rudiger due to a knee injury, leaving David Luiz to partner Andreas Christensen in the centre of defence and Gary Cahill being handed a rare appearance on the bench.

Alonso is expected to return in place of Emerson Palmieri at left-back, while Ross Barkley is in line to replace Ruben Loftus-Cheek in midfield.

Olivier Giroud should start in attack, and Pedro and Callum Hudson-Odoi could get the nod on either flank due to Willian and Hazard playing 90 minutes against Liverpool.

Slavia welcome back Soucek into midfield, but that could prove to be Trpisovsky’s only change from the first leg.

Petr Sevcik will likely be the player to drop down to the substitutes’ bench having started just two of Slavia’s five knockout fixtures.

Chelsea possible starting lineup:
Arrizabalaga, Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Alonso; Kante, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi

Slavia Prague possible starting lineup:
Kolar; Coufal, Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Deli, Boril; Traore, Soucek, Kral; Stoch; Masopust, Olayinka


Head To Head

Last week’s fixture represented the first-ever competitive encounter between the two clubs.

Chelsea are now undefeated in seven matches against opposition from the Czech Republic, while Slavia are playing a European contest in England for the first time since drawing 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in 2008.


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We say: Chelsea 3-1 Slavia Prague

Slavia have shown throughout this tournament that they are capable of scoring goals against better opposition, but Chelsea are likely to improve on last week’s performance. We are backing Slavia to net an away goal, although it may prove to be a consolation with Chelsea having the quality to register a comfortable win.


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