Football Predictions

Slavia Prague v Chelsea preview, predictions & expected line-ups

By Harry Edwards

Published: 8:30, 11 April 2019

Chelsea will be looking to put one foot in the Europa League semi-final when they face Slavia Prague on Thursday.

After topping their group, the Blues have seen off Malmo and Dynamo Kyiv en route to the quarter-finals while Slavia Prague beat Genk and Sevilla.

Read on for Slavia Prague v Chelsea live stream options, team news, predicted XIs, stats and TV channel info.

When is Slavia Prague vs Chelsea?

Competition: Uefa Europa League

Venue: Sinobo Stadium

Date: Thursday, 11 April

Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST

Where can I watch live?

Chelsea’s visit to Slavia Prague can be viewed by UK residents on BT Sport 3, channel 417 on Sky and channel 529, for Virgin Media users. BT Sport subscribers can also watch the game online at sport.bt.com and via their BT Sport app.

Head-to-head

Though Chelsea have previously played at Slavia Prague’s stadium, in the 2013 Uefa Super Cup, the two sides are yet to face off.

Chelsea have, however, played six times against Czech opposition in European competitions winning three and drawing three. Meanwhile, Slavia Prague have managed just one win from nine games against English sides.

Slavia Prague wins: 0 Draws:Chelsea wins: 0

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Match preview

When the draw was officially made last month, it was believed Chelsea had the easiest tie in the Europa League – coupled with a more favourable route to the final.

But Slavia Prague will beg to differ, reaching the quarter-finals off the back of a hard-fought and shocking aggregate win over the Europa League’s most successful team: Sevilla.

The game comes in a busy run of matches for Chelsea which will see them having played six times in 19 days starting with last week’s Premier League win over Brighton, and travelling to Prague just three days after facing West Ham.

Meanwhile, Slavia Prague are enjoying a fine run in the Czech First League, currently sitting seven points clear at the top ahead of Viktoria Plzen and have had two days more rest than their opponents, as well as the advantage of playing at home.

As a result, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri will have a tough task on his hands in deciding who starts for Chelsea to give them the best opportunities to win and take control of the tie ahead of next week’s second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Which competition will Sarri prioritise?

At the start of the season, Maurizio Sarri would have been given the objective to get Chelsea back into the Champions League – through either the Europa League or a top four finish.

With the season getting closer to its end, Chelsea are still in a good position for either route, sitting third in the Premier League and the quarter-finals of the Europa League.

Chelsea’s next three games could be season-defining with two legs against Slavia Prague sandwiched either side of a trip to Anfield to face Premier League leaders Liverpool.

But which route will Sarri consider the best? In the Premier League, despite Chelsea being third, the Blues have played a game more than their rivals and could still drop down to fifth if Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur win their extra matches.

Meanwhile, in the Europa League Chelsea have a favoured route to the final, with Eintracht Frankfurt or Benfica awaiting the victor of this quarter-final.

Given the firm control they have of their Europa League destiny, Sarri may opt to focus on the European competition.

Who are Slavia Prague?

Czech Republic’s oldest club side, Slavia Prague are in the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time since the 1999/2000 Uefa Cup when they were knocked out by English side Leeds United over two legs, despite a home win.

They have reached this stage by shocking Sevilla with a 6-5 aggregate win, which included a dramatic 4-3 victory after extra-time in the second leg – with Ibrahim-Benjamin Traore scoring the winner in the 119th minute.

Slavia Prague’s progress to the knockout stages came despite the Czech side scoring just four goals in their six group games – the fewest of any team to qualify for the round-of-32, including the Champions League drop outs.

But they remain unbeaten at home in Europe this season, including wins over Bordeaux, Zenit and Sevilla. They are by no means an easy draw for Chelsea.

Team news

Slavia Prague will have to take on Chelsea without Tomas Soucek who is suspended for yellow card accumulation, but have an otherwise clean squad.

Chelsea have no fresh injury worries but will likely rotate the team which started Monday’s win over West Ham, with an eye on Sunday’s game against Liverpool.

How everyone thinks Slavia Prague and Chelsea will line up

1. No space for English duo

Despite the Europa League previously being Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s competition, with the English pair starting in each of Chelsea’s past two games, a third is unlikely to follow.

As a result, Willian, Pedro and Mateo Kovacic are likely to return to the starting XI with Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante also rested. Despite Gonzalo Higuain’s poor form and need for a goal, the Argentinian is likely to sit out with ‘Mr. Europa League’ Olivier Giroud set to spearhead the Blues attack. The Frenchman has nine goals so far in the competition this season, more than any other player.

One big change which could come at the back is Davide Zappacosta starting over Cesar Azpilicueta, with the Spaniard rested for the tough game against Liverpool at the weekend, while Andreas Christensen is also likely to start.

Predicted Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; Zappacosta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kovacic, Jorginho, Barkley; Pedro, Giroud, Willian.

2. A reunion for Stoch

A large majority of Slavia Prague’s squad may be relatively unknown to fans outside the Czech Republic, but there will be one name sticking out for Chelsea supporters.

Miroslav Stoch was once a young star at Chelsea threatening to break through into the first team, but like many to have followed, the Slovakian failed.

Now 29, Stoch finds himself with Slavia Prague and is in line to start against his former side, having scored twice in the Europa League so far.

Stoch is likely to be joined in attack by Milan Skoda, Ibrahim-Benjamin Traore and January signing Lukas Masopust, while Josef Husbauer may be chosen to replace the suspended Tomas Soucek.

Predicted Slavia Prague XI (4-3-3): Kolar; Kudela, Ngadeu-Ngadjul, Deli, Boril; Kral, Husbauer; Masopust, Traore, Stoch; Skoda.

2. Chelsea to make nine changes

In his pre-match press conference ahead of Thursday’s game, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri admitted he will be looking to make five or six changes with an eye on Liverpool at the weekend.

But iNews believe the Italian will bring more rotation, keeping just two players from the team which started against West Ham on Monday – Antonio Rudiger and N’Golo Kante.

For them, Willy Caballero starts in goal with Zappacosta, Christensen and Alonso making up three defensive changes. In midfield, Barkley and Kovacic replace Jorginho and Loftus-Cheek, while Giroud, Willian and Pedro make up the front three.

iNews‘ Predicted Chelsea XI (4-3-3): Caballero; Zappacosta, Rudiger, Christensen, Alonso; Kovacic, Barkley, Kante; Willian, Giroud, Pedro.

Squawka Prediction

Slavia Prague should not be overlooked for the tie and will cause Chelsea problems. However, that said, the Blues should come out on top. 2-0 Chelsea.