‘We enjoy playing football. We all love playing for Chelsea, but obviously physically it is difficult because there is so many games and travelling and hotels, but that’s the job. That’s what we’re here for, to play football, to enjoy it. So we don’t think too much about it, we just enjoy the games and that can be good for everyone, because there’s so many games and everyone can play.’
That travelling also means Zouma is away from home on his birthday for this trip to face Krasnodar, as he turns 26 today. However, he says age is just a number within this close knit and young Chelsea squad.
‘I see the young lads come in and naturally I try to speak to the younger lads, but in this group we are lucky because everyone understands each other and I think we don’t put the age ahead of everything. Everyone understands each other, everyone talks to each other, which is very great and that will bring us very far.’
And what would Zouma see as the ideal present for his 26th birthday in Russia?
‘Just a clean sheet and a win,’ he said, with his trademark wide grin. ‘That would be perfect for me, the best gift I could have!’
The boss confirmed all the players that have travelled to Russia are fit and available, with only Kepa and Thiago Silva not making the journey east. The Brazilian has been rested so there is a possibility Rudiger could replace him in central defence tomorrow, fresh from media reports Lampard and him had enjoyed a productive chat.
At his press conference on the eve of our matchday two encounter, Lampard was asked about that first…
‘I have discussions with Antonio and all the players as readily as I can do,’ replied the boss.
‘I have always had a positive relationship with him. Everything I do, I do for the club and selections and the team, and at the minute sometimes you have to have players out of the squad and it is big news for everybody.
‘I have a very positive relationship with him, and he’s in the squad and very much in contention to play.’
We head to Russia with things delicately balanced in Group E with all four teams on one point after the first round of fixtures, following our 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge with Sevilla and Krasnodar’s 1-1 draw at Rennes.
That means a win on Wednesday evening would put us in a good early position to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League. Do you remember how we got on in our second group games of previous campaigns? Give the quiz below a go and find out. Good luck!
If you fancy using that Chelsea knowledge to try to win some fantastic prizes while competing against your fellow Blues fans, don’t forget to enter the Play Predictor for Wednesday’s match.
If you would like to submit a tribute to a Blues-supporting family member or friend to our Message Board spread, please send a good-quality photograph of them, along with your 30-word message, to [email protected] and we will look to publish as many as we can in an upcoming issue of the matchday programme.
The programme is packed full of exclusive Chelsea content, as we interview the players and coaching staff of all our teams, as well as the greats of the past. We’re also taking a deep dive into some of the great characters and moments of this club, with a long read in each publication that gets to the heart of Chelsea’s identity. Plus there’s all the latest stats, facts and comment from inside the camp.
Just because you’re not at the stadium, you don’t have to miss out on this great football tradition. While games at Stamford Bridge are being played behind closed doors, we’re delivering the programme directly to your door. All you have to do is order your copy online here.
Krasnodar vs Chelsea live stream
The match is being broadcast live by BT Sport in the UK.
Chelsea TV’s matchday programming is on the 5th Stand, Facebook Live and our official YouTube channel with three live shows: pre-match (starting 70 minutes before kick-off), half-time and post match.
Features will include the first look at the teamsheets at 4.55pm (UK) sharp, live warm-up action and blue-tinted discussion from our guests on the show.
Krasnodar vs Chelsea live commentary
There will be live audio commentary and text commentary updates on the 5th Stand app and this website, as well as updates on our @chelseafc Twitter account.