Time for the squad players to shine
There is a fine balancing act when it comes to Chelsea’s opening Champions League game. On the one hand, Qarabag at home provides the perfect opportunity to use some of the squad players and also get the campaign off to the flying start that the Blues want.
The likes of Andreas Christensen and Charly Musonda may get their chance to start and it will be important.
Because, on the other hand, if Conte does rotate and it does backfire, then the Blues are already right behind the eight ball as the competition gets under way.
Qarabag are the minnows of the competition, but in the top flight of European football you can’t take anything lightly, and the Blues must make sure they don’t.
Do not take them lightly
Out of all the games during these Champions League group games you have to think that the Qarabag ones are the must win matches, because you know that Atletico and Roma will be expecting to do the same.
They may be the minnows of the competition, but they have obviously worked hard to get into the final stages for the first time in their history and that sense of nothing to lose makes them a dangerous animal to contain.
Gurban Gurbanov will no doubt set up his team to be difficult to beat, and early goals will help ease any tension around the ground. Chelsea must get six from six against the Azerbaijani’s, but don’t expect them to just roll over for you.
Putting player’s pain on the pitch
Several of the Chelsea players have spoken in the last few days about just how much playing in the Champions League means to them, so now they have to show it.
Gary Cahill said yesterday that Chelsea are back where they belong after a year of having to watch it on television, and he’s right. Stamford Bridge has held some wonderful nights in the competition and to see it back feels right.
Qarabag may not be the most glamorous return to the competition, but the players need to put on a show early doors to get the campaign off to the right way.
Will rotation bite back?
In his press conference yesterday, Conte spoke heavily about the need for rotation with such a busy September. The Blues have six games left this month, with Arsenal on Sunday and a trip to Stoke, plus the visit of Manchester City all included.
Tonight’s game might seem like the perfect opportunity to rest some players, which always comes with it’s dangers.
The Blues should have the squad players to be able to deal with the situation, but Conte will be hoping that his plan doesn’t come back to haunt him.
Does this squad have enough to win the Champions League?
Tonight may not be the toughest test of the Blues’ group stage, however it will be a really good indication to show if Chelsea have enough in their squad to go on the win the competition.
Every club’s ambition is to win the Champions League, but is it a realistic aim? Anything less than the quarter-finals will no doubt be a disappointment, where semi-finals would definitely seem to be a decent campaign.
But do the Blues have the quality throughout to cope with the Premier League and Champions League? Tonight will give us a good indication.