Chelsea will look to get their Champions League campaign back on track when they host Malmo on Wednesday at 8pm (UK time).
The Blues fell 1-0 away to Juventus on matchday two after beating Zenit by the same scoreline in their opening game.
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Where to watch Chelsea vs Malmo on TV:
- UK: BT Sport 3
- US: Paramount+
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Chelsea have been motoring along in the Premier League, winning four of their last five matches to climb to the top of the table. But if they’re to translate their fine domestic form into European success, the Blues are going to have to finely balance the physical load on their squad.
After a great start to life back at Stamford Bridge, £97m striker Romelu Lukaku is now enduring a six-game goalless run at club level. The 28-year-old has certainly been busy this year with Belgium reaching the Uefa Nations League finals and the quarter-finals of the European Championships. It appears his heavy workload is starting to catch up with him.
“We are in the process of adapting to each other. In this moment, I feel like Romelu has been overplayed, I think he played too many competitions over the summer, too many competitions with the national team and now the Nations League,” said Tuchel.
“He is a fantastic athlete and such a competitive guy, he digs in deep, he wants to win these things, he wants to be out there and win. He wanted a good outcome with Belgium, this was a huge match for him personally, it means a lot for him to play for his country.
“He always puts it on his shoulders but I feel he is a bit tired mentally, he does not fully enjoy without having second thoughts.
“For me, he has been overplayed but once he finds his rhythm and once he finds things a bit easier… but it is difficult to judge if he really needs a break or if we need to keep him on the pitch.”
The same applies to midfielders Jorginho and Mason Mount. The former went all the way with Italy at Euro 2020 following a 43-game season, while he also played in the Nations League finals just like Lukaku. Mount, meanwhile, was a key part of England’s run to the final of the Euros and has played 63 club games since the start of last season.
“[The] next national break is coming, but this is what I feel particularly for him (Lukaku), some other players too, like with Mason [Mount] and Jorginho, they have a lot of weight to carry for their countries and they take it and they love it and they are competitors but whether you like it or not if you play 1,000 matches a year it can feel heavy,” Tuchel added.
Though they currently top the Allsvenskan, Malmo represent the most winnable game in Group H, especially on home soil. Now might not be a terrible time for Tuchel to ease the load on his most overworked stars, giving them a much-needed break as the busy winter schedule races into view.
Scoreline prediction: Chelsea 4-0 Malmo
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Chelsea vs Malmo previous line-ups & injury news:
- Chelsea (vs Brentford): Mendy; Chalobah, Christensen, Sarr; Azpilicueta, Kante, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Chilwell; Werner, Lukaku.
- Malmo (vs Ostersund): Dahlin, Larsson, Nielsen, Brorsson; Berget, Rakip, Innocent, Christiansen, Rieks; Colak, Birmancevic.
Antonio Rudiger and Christian Pulisic are both still sidelined with injury, but Thiago Silva and Hakim Ziyech stand a chance of featuring. Anel Ahmedhodzic is suspended for Malmo after his red card against Zenit. The likes of Ola Toivonen and Jonas Knudsen are injured.
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