This was supposed to be a relatively straightforward Champions League group for Chelsea and perhaps it still will be, but the Blues got off to the worst possible start last week. Expected to be comfortable against Dinamo Zagreb despite their poor start to the season, Chelsea’s misery increased with a 1-0 defeat which currently leaves them bottom.
But it didn’t end there. The very next morning Chelsea announced the departure of Thomas Tuchel, just over 15 months after he had led the Blues to Champions League glory against Manchester City in Porto. Chelsea were swift in replacing the German though, appointing Graham Potter a day latter and he is now preparing for both his first game as Blues manager and first ever Champions League match.
Looking to spoil Potter’s Stamford Bridge bow are Red Bull Salzburg who have lost just once across all competitions this season. Following a 2-1 defeat to Sturm Graz in the second week of the Austrian Bundesliga, Salzburg have seven of their past eight matches across all competitions.
The only game Salzburg failed to win during that run came in the Champions League last week as they were held to a 1-1 draw by AC Milan, as Alexis Saelemaekers equalised following Noah Okafor’s opener. But Salzburg have lost each of their past three away games in the Champions League, their longest such run.
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Chelsea vs Red Bull Salzburg match stats
Chelsea’s defence hasn’t been good this season but with Potter in charge they will be hoping to a similar boost at the back to the one experienced when Tuchel first took over. Potter’s former club Brighton currently have the second-best defence in the Premier League and their Expected Goals on Target Conceded of 3.75 the second-lowest, only bettered by Man City’s 3.6.
With this being Potter’s first game in charge after a week off it’ll be interesting to see which players he goes with in his XI. One man almost guaranteed to start is Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace at Stamford Bridge in the 2-1 win over Leicester last month.
Chelsea vs Red Bull Salzburg: Squawka Says
Scoreline prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg
This will be the first meeting between these two sides and Chelsea’s fifth against Austrian opposition, with two draws against Austria Vienna in the 1994/95 Cup Winners’ Cup and a win and defeat vs Wiener SC back in 1965/66. Salzburg have faced English opposition six games so far, with one draw and five defeats against Liverpool, Blackburn and Manchester City.