CHELSEA v Maribor: Champions League Preview


Venue: Stamford Bridge
Date: Tuesday, 21 October
Kick-off: 19:45 BST

It’s back to the Champions League tonight and a home game against Maribor. Champions League games are a great opportunity for fans to see a Chelsea match, so make sure you get your tickets before this game (or the next one – I hear we’re going up north).

We didn’t have the best start in Group G, held to a 1-1 draw at home against Schalke last month, although our last game proved more fruitful with a 1-0 win against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal.
We go into tonight’s game unbeaten in the Premier League and with five straight wins in all competitions. Maribor by comparison have won just one from their last four league games although draws against Schalke and Sporting still leave them second in the group ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge.

MANAGER’S VIEWS
Going into tonight’s game, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says “I do not have Manchester United in mind, I have Maribor in mind. I don’t rest players. We have to think about this game, not the one in Slovenia. It is important to win, the group is not an easy one. Sporting (Lisbon) are a good team and are playing better and better and better. Schalke are a good team, now with Roberto (Di Matteo), a new coach. Motivation is high and they are a dangerous team. Maribor have played eight matches in the Champions League with zero defeats. Celtic: didn’t lose. Sporting: didn’t lose. Schalke in Germany: didn’t lose. When I study them, I realise why they didn’t lose. We have four points, which isn’t bad, but we need seven out of these three matches to qualify. With seven you are not qualified but it gives you a little bit of stability for the second part (of the Champions League group stages).”
Maribor boss Ante Simundza meanwhile, says “Mourinho is a great challenge, this is true, but he does not play, players play. On all defer to the outcome, so this is all together a great challenge for the team. Before a group we were a contender for the write-off in two matches, we confirmed that we can competitive, I believe that will be the case (against Chelsea).
Given all the names that play in the attack, it is for us to facilitate that Costa will not, because it is the hottest attackers.’s Much name value added of the team is the main stage of the attack. When he came into the team, even did not need adjustment, we know that their first shooter. For us, his absence a huge plus, one problem less.”

SQUAD NEWS
For Chelsea, Diego Costa (hamstring), Andre Schurrle (illness), John Obi Mikel (foot) and Ramires (groin) are also still sidelined. Didier Drogba or Loic Remy will start up front.
For Maribor, 19-year-old defender Petar Stojanovic misses out (thigh) is the side’s only fresh injury concern.

TEAMS
CHELSEA (Possible line-up): Courtois, Ivanovic, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta, Matic, Fabregas, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Remy
MARIBOR (Possible line-up): Handanovic; Viler, Suler, Rajcevic, Mejac; Bohar, Mertelj, Filipovic, Vrsic; Tavares, Ibraimi

LAST MEETING
N/A

OTHER STUFF
• This will be the first time Chelsea have faced a Slovenian side in European competition.
• Maribor won their last game against an English side, 2-1 against Wigan Athletic in the Europa League in December 2013.

PREDICTION
I’d like to think this would be quite a straight forward night in Europe. The trouble is, neither Sporting nor Schalke managed to beat Maribor. Add to that Remy’s lack of games and Didier’s lack of match fitness, and I’m not going to risk the slightest hint of confidence – just in case.

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