?Chelsea will make their return to the Champions League on Tuesday when they welcome Valencia to Stamford Bridge.
The Blues won the Europa League last season, but also sealed qualification for the competition by finishing third in the Premier League. However, that was all under Maurizio Sarri, and Frank Lampard must now try to match that success.
Valencia are also without the manager that actually led them to the Champions League, having surprisingly decided to part ways with Marcelino on Wednesday.
Check out 90min’s preview of the game below.
Where to Watch
|?When Is Kick Off?||?Tuesday 17 September|
|?What Time Is Kick Off?||?20:00 (BST)|
|?Where Is it Played?||?Stamford Bridge|
|?TV Channel/Live Stream?||?BT Sport 3|
Where to Buy Tickets
Tickets for the game are, as ever, available on both teams’ official club websites, though membership is required in order to purchase. In terms of resale, both teams provide the option to make season tickets available for others to use, if a supporter is unable to attend the game themselves.
The match will come too soon for both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James, whilst ?N’Golo Kante and Emerson both face a race against time to recover from their respective injuries. There are also doubts about the fitness of ?Antonio Rudiger, who picked up a groin injury against ?Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Valencia have their own injury problems to deal with. They will be without long-term absentees Carlos Soler and Cristiano Piccini, but should otherwise be at full strength for their trip to Stamford Bridge.
|?Chelsea||Arrizabalaga; Tomori, Christensen, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kovacic, Jorginho, Alonso; Pulisic, Mount, Abraham.?|
|?Valencia||?Cillessen; Wass, Garay, Gabriel, Gaya; Torres, Parejo, Coquelin, Guedes; Gameiro, Gomez.|
Head to Head Record
The two sides have met six times in the past, and ?Chelsea are yet to taste defeat, having picked up three wins and three draws.
Their latest meeting came in the group stages of the 2011/12 ?Champions League campaign. The Blues earned a 1-1 draw away from home, before picking up a convincing 3-0 win over Valencia in the return leg thanks to goals from Ramires and Didier Drogba.
As we all know, Chelsea went on to win the entire competition that season – could Valencia be their lucky omen?
Chelsea’s form has been incredibly varied since Frank Lampard took control. They disappointed against both ?Manchester United and ?Sheffield United, but have since impressed as they look to move on from their struggles.
They stormed to a 5-2 win over Wolves last time out, as goals from Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, coupled with a Tammy Abraham hat-trick, saw the Blues run out deserving winners.
As for Valencia, you would think that their decision to sack manager Marcelino would mean they are in a slump. They most definitely are not. Before his departure, they had one won, drawn one and lost one, so there was nothing to be majorly concerned about.
Now under the guidance of Albert Celades, Valencia recently fell to a 5-2 defeat against ?Barcelona, so things aren’t exactly going great.
Here’s how each side has got on in their last five games.
|?Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-5 Chelsea (14/9)||?Barcelona 5-2 Valencia (14/9)|
|?Chelsea 2-2 Sheffield United (31/8)||?Valencia 2-0 Mallorca (1/9)|
|?Norwich City 2-3 Chelsea (24/8)||?Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia (24/8)|
|?Chelsea 1-1 Leicester City (18/8)||?Valencia 1-1 Real Sociedad (17/8)|
|?Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea (14/8)||?Barcelona 1-2 Valencia (25/5)|
This is a tough one to call. On paper, Chelsea look like they should have enough to pick up the win, but games aren’t played on paper.
The Blues have looked amazing at times, but have then looked incredibly shaky at others, so we don’t really know what to expect from them. Their win over Wolves will give them the momentum, and Lampard’s men will hope to use that to their advantage.
Valencia are a bit of an unknown quantity following the departure of Marcelino, and their heavy defeat to Barcelona wasn’t the greatest way to move on. However, losing to Barcelona isn’t exactly a catastrophe.
Nevertheless, Chelsea should be able to get the win here, but don’t expect it to come easily.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Valencia?