Chelsea face Malmo in their third Champions League fixture of the season on Wednesday evening and Thomas Tuchel have a number of options to consider when selecting his starting line-up.
It’s been a busy season for the Blues, and when you’re in five compeititions there is little opportunity for the relentless schedule to let up.
Already this season the German coach has introduced the likes of Trevoh Chalobah, Malang Sarr and Ruben Loftus-Cheek into his first team plans, while Ross Barkley has had an influence from the bench.
Malmo have suffered heavy defeats to Juventus and Zenit Saint Petersburg so far this season in Europe and that hints that Tuchel may able to use the game to try and breed confidence into his players, and perhaps provide an opportunity to the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Saul Niguez.
football.london‘s Chelsea reporters name the side they would select for the fixture at Stamford Bridge below:
Thomas Tuchel faces a delicate balancing act when he names his Chelsea team to take on Malmo in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The manager summed it up when he was asked about Romelu Lukaku’s form, six games without a goal for the club, and seemed to be pondering whether he needs to rest as he’s been “overplayed” or if it best to keep him on the pitch to get him firing again.
It’s a tough dilemma for Tuchel, who needs his number nine and club-record signing firing on all cylinders. Chelsea are top of the Premier League as it stands but are not playing anywhere near their best.
That said, with the arrival of Group H whipping boys Malmo to Stamford Bridge this week, it does represent the chance for Tuchel to freshen things up a bit after the hard-fought win over Brentford last time out.
That means the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech and Saul Niguez will all be pushing for starts in the Blues side. Reece James will likely make his first start since injury as well having conducted the pre-match media press conferences on Tuesday afternoon.
Tuchel can select Thiago Silva if he wishes as despite his need to quarantine after playing for Brazil during the break, he is still able to train and play. He just has to go straight home after the game. Antonio Rudiger is back in training as well but it doesn’t seem wise to bring him back in midweek with Norwich on the horizon this weekend. Plus, Malang Sarr played well at Brentford and deserves another game.
Tuchel might think about giving Edouard Mendy a rest as well and replacing him with Kepa but that’s a long shot.
If it were me picking the team then I’d keep Lukaku in as he needs to find the net again to get some confidence back in front of goal. Hopefully he could score before the hour mark and then Tuchel can withdraw him from action for the remainder of the game.
Without putting a jinx on it, even if Chelsea made wholesale changes they should still be strong enough to see off Malmo, who haven’t scored yet in the Champions League group stage and have shipped seven goals.
Sam’s XI: Mendy; James, Azpilicueta, Silva, Sarr, Alonso; Saul, Loftus-Cheek; Mount, Havertz, Lukaku.
This is a game that Chelsea must win if they are to qualify top of Group H. Yet there is no denying it’s an opportunity to rest tired legs and give others an opportunity to impress. To that end, Thomas Tuchel faces a difficult balancing act tomorrow night.
I wouldn’t make too many changes in the backline. Edouard Mendy is in outstanding form and must start in goal for the Blues while I would again go with Trevoh Chalobah on the right of the back three and Andreas Christensen through the middle.
Antonio Rudiger has to come back in on the left in my opinion and I’d also give Marcos Alonso a start at left wing-back in order to keep Ben Chilwell fresh for Saturday’s game against Norwich City.
On the opposite flank, I’d start Reece James, who only featured in the latter minutes of the weekend victory over Brentford as he recovers from injury.
I feel this is the ideal game in which to give Saul Niguez an opportunity in the starting XI. The Spaniard has struggled with the intensity of the England game but should be more at home in European action. I’d partner the Spaniard with N’Golo Kante, who would offer greater defensive protection than Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
The front three is where I believe big changes should be made. Callum Hudson-Odoi has to start this game and in his favoured role on the left. I’d also rest Romelu Lukaku and deploy Kai Havertz through the middle.
Mason Mount was only a second-half substitute at the weekend and this could be the ideal match in which the England international can kickstart his campaign, especially in terms of production in the final third.
Adam’s side: Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger; James, Kante, Saul, Alonso; Mount, Havertz, Hudson-Odoi
With Christian Pulisic being Thomas Tuchel’s only injury worry, the German coach will have a lot of options to face Malmo on Wednesday.
It’s a difficult position with the Swedish side proving to be the poorest side in Group H so far but the Blues require three points after defeat to Juventus on the last matchday. Nevertheless with six matches in 17 days, you have to be wary of player’s loads.
Antonio Rudiger has returned to fitness, but despite some late struggles both Trevoh Chalobah and Malang Sarr showed they could perform to a high level so Malmo could provide a good opportunity for both players to gain more experience. Andreas Christensen can be rotated after his return to action following international football and Thiago Silva could return after missing the weekend’s match due to the proximity of Brazil’s final match in the early hours of Friday.
Reece James comes in to earn his fitness, while there is no reason to not offer some rotation between Marcos Alonso and Ben Chilwell, even if the latter has established himself as the leader in the position.
N’Golo Kante and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both played at the weekend and with their injury histories, probably need to be managed despite the fact they remained at Cobham over the international break. Jorginho can slot into the centre of midfield but his partner is more difficult to name with Mateo Kovacic playing at the weekend following his time with Croatia. His substitution means I would opt for him, though maybe Saul Niguez could slot in.
Callum Hudson-Odoi must be worthy of some time on the pitch, but with Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz all in contention there are a number of options. Perhaps Havertz can find a decisive moment this time.
Tuchel noted that Romelu Lukaku was mentally tired in his press conference, and maybe it’s time to try resting him to produce a late cameo. The Blues coach noted a similar thought on Mount too.
Scott’s XI : Mendy; Chalobah, Silva, Sarr; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Alonso; Mount, Werner, Hudson-Odoi.
Source by Football London