Chelsea return to the Champions League with their new-look team against Valencia at Stamford Bridge. It will offer an opportunity for their young players to test themselves in the high-pressured environment of Europe’s elite competition. Their group doesn’t look too difficult, but all three teams will offer a test to the Blues. Given they are the current Europa League champions and they have experience of going deep into the competition, they will fancy their chances of making the knockout stages at the very least.
The Blues have shown several encouraging signs at the beginning of the season. The main worry will be their defence, but Frank Lampard has build a style that creates a lot of chances in attack. Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount had very minimal top-flight experience before this campaign, but they have both stood out at Stamford Bridge. The former has scored seven goals in his last three Chelsea appearances. He will be relishing the opportunity to see if he can continue that goal-scoring form in the Champions League. The Blues go into this competition with no pressure on them and that could lead to some very exciting football.
Valencia have already sacked Marcelino this season and head into the Champions League with a new manager in the form of Albert Celades. Their performances haven’t been great at the beginning of the season, which resulted in a change of manager. However, there is a lot of talent in the squad and they will look at this group as a real opportunity to progress into the knockout stages. Their weekend match against Barcelona suggests this game will feature goals. They lost 5-2. Given the vulnerabilities both back fours have shown, there should be goals.
Chelsea became the first team in Premier League history to have 11 league goals scored by players aged 21 or under excluding own goals.
Valencia have only won one of their opening four games in La Liga and come to Stamford Bridge having conceded five in their last games.
It is rare for a young English striker to be the first-choice option at a Champions League club. Although Abraham gets the opportunity due to a transfer ban, he has been given regular minutes and he needs to take advantage of that. It would have been easy for the striker to fall out of the first-team following a difficult start to the season, including a missed penalty in the European Super Cup shootout. However, the 21-year-old came out fighting and has now scored seven goals in his last three matches. He is currently the joint top scorer in the Premier League and Lampard’s faith in him has played a huge part in that. Throughout his loan spells in the Championship, he showed that he could be a player that thrives off momentum. Given his recent form, he is the obvious danger man for Valencia to worry about. As a young player still learning his game, it will be positive for him to get to test himself in the Champions League. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him carry on his good goal-scoring form on Tuesday.
Goncalo Guedes is an exciting young player, who has been an excellent player for Valencia since joining the club. He will be one of the players that Celades looks to build his team around at the club. Last season, he only contributed five goals and three assists, but he has the ability to produce much more than that. Some of his better performances came in the Europa League in the previous campaign and he will relish the chance to star on the Champions League stage. Chelsea have shown themselves to be weak at the back and the visitors’ attackers will have space to exploit. Guedes is a player that could play a big role on Tuesday.
N’Golo Kante will be hoping to be back for the match, but Antonio Rudiger may miss out following a knock picked up at the weekend. Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Abraham should all make their Champions League debuts. Callum Hudson-Odoi could be back from injury to feature.
Carlos Soler is likely to miss out for the visitors, while Cristiano Piccini is also on the treatment table. Kevin Gameiro and Guedes will be the main attacking threats Former Arsenal players Gabriel and Francis Coquelin could start.
Chelsea are going to be one of the most entertaining teams to watch this season, with goals likely at both ends in all of their matches. They will have a similar approach in the Champions League, with their youngsters relishing the opportunity to test themselves in that environment. They will see the no-fear approach of Ajax last season and take confidence from their success, especially given the group they have been given, including a double header with the new look Dutch club. They should be able to start their campaign with a positive result on Tuesday.
Chelsea 2-1 Valencia