A trip to north west Russia would usually not sound appealing for Chelsea, especially approaching December.
A lengthy flight, as well as sub-zero temperatures would make any Champions League clash difficult for the Blues, particularly as they attempt to seal top spot in the group and thus potentially face a somewhat easier draw in the next round of the competition.
That is exactly what looked to be facing Thomas Tuchel’s men as they prepare to take on Russian giants Zenit St Petersburg.
However, the Blues have been handed somewhat of a relief with the Gazprom Arena – the home of Zenit – set to offer them shelter from the harsh winter conditions that they would usually face.
Built in December 2016 and opened four months later, the venue was originally intended as one of the venues for the 2018 World Cup, eventually staging seven matches throughout the competition.
Meanwhile, it was also utilised by UEFA for delayed 2020 European Championships, also playing host to seven matches.
Whilst the climate is hugely different than that seen before, the players will take to the pitch in a far more familiar environment.
The heavy snow that has been falling steadily in St Petersburg will be kept out by the stadium’s retractable roof, something that the club can choose to close ahead of kick-off.
Meanwhile, the colder temperatures will be kept out by the internal climate control.
That will of course be a huge advantage to Chelsea, who of course are far more used to playing in warmer climates than their hosts – despite the current dropping temperatures in the UK ahead of the festive period.
The Blues then will be hoping to replicate the result that they earned when Zenit travelled to Stamford Bridge back in September. A solitary strike from Romelu Lukaku was enough for the reigning European champions to claim maximum points.
The hosts meanwhile will hope to improve their results on home soil in the Champions League having won just one out of their last five games the competition at the Gazprom Arena.
Source by Football London