10 April 2019

Slavia Prague v. Chelsea Preview  (Sky Sports)

Maurizio SarriMaurizio Sarri says Slavia Prague are a "dangerous" side as Chelsea prepare for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final.

Slavia Prague's last-minute winner in extra-time against Sevilla in a 4-3 thriller put them into the Europa League quarter-finals for the first time.

"This a very dangerous match for us," said Sarri. "They have scored six in two matches against Seville, they are dangerous.

"We need to be very compact and to defend really well. On crosses they can attack with five or six players. It's not easy for us.

Danny Drinkwater, who was charged this week with drink driving, is yet to play under Sarri and did not travel with the squad.

"In my opinion he is not suited to my system and my way of playing," said Sarri.

"Jorginho against Brighton played 161 balls, for our way of football it's important to have a technical centre-midfielder with a fast mind.

"Kante is wonderful for something different but not playing one touch."

Chelsea - currently third in the Premier League and on a three-match winning streak - go into the tie as favourites, not least because Slavia were put out of the Champions League third qualifying round at the beginning of the season by Dynamo Kyiv, who were then thrashed 8-0 on aggregate by Sarri's team in the last 16 of the Europa League just last month.

Following their victory against Sevilla, coach Jindrich Trpisovsky, said: "My dream is to take Slavia to England. We've always wished for that because our fans really deserve it for all their faithful support."

Slavia currently sit top of the table in the Czech First League, seven points ahead of Viktoria Plzen.

Team news

Maurizio Sarri is likely to make wholesale changes to the side that beat West Ham 2-0 on Monday, as Chelsea look to manage a jam-packed fixture list.

Willian, Pedro and Olivier Giroud are likely to earn a recall, while Andreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso could replace Antonio Rudiger and Emerson Palmieri..

Willy Caballero may also be granted a start in place of Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Ross Barkley should come in for Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Slavia Prague will be without Tomas Soucek after the midfielder picked up his third Europa League yellow card of the season against Sevilla.

Opta stats

This will be the first ever competitive meeting between Slavia Prague and Chelsea. The Czech side have won just one of their previous nine games against English sides in Europe (D2 L6) - this coming against Leeds United in March 2000 in the UEFA Cup (2-1).

This is Chelsea's 10th European quarter final since 2003-04. The Blues have progressed from nine of those ties, only being eliminated by Manchester United in the Champions League in 2010-11.

Slavia Prague's 2-1 victory at home to Leeds United in March 2000 was their most recent game in a European quarter final; they were eliminated having lost the first leg 0-3 at Elland Road. Their only progression from a European quarter final was in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup against Roma (3-3 on away goals).

Chelsea have won more games (nine) and have a better goal difference (+21) than any other side in the UEFA Europa League this season.

Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud is the top scorer in this season's Europa League with nine goals. The last player to surpass this figure in a single UEFA Europa League season was Aritz Aduriz, who netted 10 goals for Athletic Club in 2015-16.

Charlie's prediction

I think the manager is going after this and Sarri may want to win something, especially if he goes at the end of the season. I would play Hazard and Giroud.

I would also play Hudson-Odoi and those would be the three up front and I would tell them to go after it - I expect that to happen. They are still not the best at the back but I expect them to win comfortably.

Charlie predicts: 1-3

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