Chelsea vs Qarabag FK, Match Preview

Chelsea vs Qarabag FK

Chelsea FC return to the Champions League on Tuesday after a one-year absence and could not have wished for an easier opponent.

Qarabag of Azerbaijan make their debut in the group stage, at the fourth attempt, after beating FC Copenhagen in the play-off round.

Antonio Conte has spoken at length for the need for increased numbers in his squad due to the extra commitments and will feel comfortable rotating his starting XI against the comparative minnows.

A shock defeat to Burnley at the start of the season has been followed by impressive wins over Tottenham, Everton and, most recently, Leicester City.

This is the first ever competitive encounter between Chelsea and Qarabag. In fact, the only previous meeting between English and Azerbaijani sides saw Tottenham face Qarabag in the 2015/16 Europa League group stages; the North London team won both games (3-1 at home, 1-0 in Baku).

This is Chelsea’s 15th Champions League participation, the third most for an English club after Manchester Utd (21) and Arsenal (19). They are also the last English club to win the competition (2012).

Chelsea have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League 13 times in their previous 14 appearances.

Danny Drinkwater will miss Chelsea’s Champions League return with a calf problem.

The midfielder picked up the injury in training on Sunday, but Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte otherwise has a fully fit squad to choose from and hinted he will rotate his players.

Defender and club captain Gary Cahill is back in contention after a three-game domestic ban.

Chelsea are expected to pick up the three points against Qarabag FK

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