Chelsea have already secured their spot in the last 16 of the Champions League, winning Group E with a game to spare thanks to their 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg last time out. So for the Blues this is a dead rubber, and some fans have called for heavy rotation, especially with Arsenal, Manchester City and Newcastle to come across all competitions before the World Cup break.
But now Graham Potter may look to use the game to get things back on track. Although Chelsea beat Salzburg in the Champions League last week, they are winless in their past three Premier League matches and at the weekend were humbled 4-1 against Potter’s former side Brighton. It was the second time Chelsea have lost by three goals this season and leaves them sixth in the table three points behind Newcastle (albeit with a game in hand).
Chelsea have done well to get to the last 16 after failing to win in their first two matches which included a 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb. That remains the Croatian club’s only victory of the group stage so far, with one draw and three defeats since, and they are unable to qualify for the last 16. However, a Europa League spot is still possible.
In order to qualify for the Europa League Zagreb must repeat their result from the first game and hope Salzburg lose to AC Milan in the other group game. If not, it will be the first time since 2019/20 that Zagreb haven’t taken part in a continental competition after Christmas, reaching the Europa League knockout round playoffs last year and the quarter-finals of the same tournament in 2020/21.
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Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb match stats
Marc Cucurella has come under fire from Chelsea fans recently for his poor start to life as a Blue, but the Spaniard is likely to start given the lack of options at the back. He’s done fairly well defensively in the Champions League this season, averaging 4.5 tackles per 90 minutes, while his teammate Jorginho has averaged 3.6 at the heart of the midfield.
Chelsea may have lost the recent meeting but they haven’t lost a home Champions League match in the group stage since September 2019, when they were beaten 1-0 at Stamford Bridge by Valencia. However, their defending has been suspect of late and the Blues are now three games without a clean sheet.
6 September 2022 – Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea – Champions League
Dinamo Zagreb won the only previous competitive meeting between these two sides, which was also Chelsea’s first against Croatian opposition. The Croatian side have now won three of their past four games against English teams.
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