Chelsea can secure their position at the top of Group G with a win over Maribor, while a victory away against the Slovenian side could confirm their place in the next round. After starting their season in incredible form, Chelsea should see this fixture as one they should be winning comfortably, as Maribor have little reputation in Europe’s top competition, but after getting two draws against Schalke and Sporting, they have shown they won’t be pushovers. However, Chelsea are a lot better than the other two sides Maribor have already faced, as the English side have the potential to win the competition with the players in their squad.
The English side have yet to find top gear in the Champions League with a 1-1 draw against Schalke and a 1-0 win away at Sporting, but that’s probably a good thing, as sides don’t want to peak too early in the competition. Chelsea are doing enough to get through a relatively easy group, therefore ensuring an easier match in the round of 16. Most expect Josh Mourinho’s side to beat Maribor twice, scoring a lot of goals in the process, especially if the likes of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Cesc Fabregas are all on form.
Meanwhile, Maribor have drawn both of their matches 1-1, showing they will cause a threat going forward against sides who are considered better than them. A 1-1 draw away to Schalke was a great result, as although the German side had the better of the play, Maribor dug in and ground out what many considered a deserved point. They won’t roll over this week against Chelsea, and it will take a good Chelsea performance to get the points. The Slovenian side qualified for the Champions League after beating Celtic over two legs, showing their quality, while a 1-0 win away at Celtic Park shows they will be able to deal with the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge this Tuesday.
- This will be the first time Chelsea have faced a Slovenian side in European competition.
- Slovenian sides have met English sides 9 times in European competition (W 1, D 2, L 6) with the only win coming when Maribor beat Wigan Athletic last season 2-1 at home.
Loic Remy has a great chance to get himself closer to the first team over the next few weeks as Diego Costa is out, while Didier Drogba can’t play the amount of minutes he once could. Last season, Remy netted 14 times for Newcastle and always looked like a player who could play for a better side, and Chelsea are well placed depth wise, considering they have him as a back up player. He is likely to start against Maribor and it’s the type of opposition he should be scoring against. If he gets two or three then his confidence will be sky high going into the Premier League in Costa’s absence. In a side with Cesc Fabregas, Eden Hazard and Oscar, he should find himself getting plenty of opportunities to score. The Frenchman has already scored once for Chelsea in the league, but he’ll be hoping to use his pace and finishing abilities to score as often as he can to ensure he continues to get game time and doesn’t get phased out like Demba Ba did at times.
Damjan Bohar may not be well known on these shores, but he is a lightning quick winger, who is making strides in the game with Maribor. Celtic fans will know him well as he scored in Maribor’s home fixture against the Scottish side with a wonderful finish and his pace and technical abilities were a threat throughout. He has recently received his first call up to the Slovenia national side. If he impresses for Maribor this Champions League campaign, then there will be clubs looking at the winger as direct wingers are in short supply in the world game. His pace, ball control and first touch are both decent. His main weaknesses are his lack of physical strength and his finishing skills could do some work. In his first season for Maribor, he scored 7 goals in 36 matches, but expect that to increase as the young winger develops.
Diego Costa is unlikely to feature after picking up an injury on international duty, as he missed the weekend’s win over Crystal Palace. Kurt Zouma and Ramires are also not likely to face Maribor, but Andre Schurrle could be available after missing the Palace game. Didier Drogba is pushing for a start.
Luka Zahovic is set to start, he is the club’s leading scorer this season, and he scored against Sporting earlier in the group stage, while Damjan Bohar and Marcos Tavares, the latter scoring the goal that knocked Celtic out of the competition, are also set to start.
Chelsea should win this one comfortably with a few goals after only scoring two so far in the competition. Maribor have managed to score the same amount as Chelsea to date, but they lack the quality at the back and in the final third to really trouble the Chelsea side. The quality of Cesc Fabregas, Oscar and Eden Hazard in the final third should prove too much for the Slovenian champions, as these three should be able to create a lot of chances for Didier Drogba or Loic Remy, depending on who starts the game.