2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage: Week One – Chelsea vs Zenit

Chelsea welcome Zenit St Petersburg to Stamford Bridge in Group H as Thomas Tuchel’s Blues kick off their UEFA Champions League title defence.

Victory could send either team top unless the winner of Malmo’s clash against Juventus achieves a better goal difference.

 

Team News

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Reece James is available for Chelsea after serving a domestic one-match suspension in Saturday’s home win over Aston Villa in the Premier League.

N’Golo Kante (ankle) is a doubt but Christian Pulisic remains sidelined with an ankle injury suffered on international duty for USA.

Kepa Arrizabalaga, Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount meanwhile are amongst various players looking for a recall, after being rested at the weekend.

Zenit could be without Dmitri Chistyakov due to an ankle injury.

Magomed Ozdoyev is ruled out with a knee injury.

 

Stat Attack

  • This is Chelsea’s first-ever meeting against Zenit St. Petersburg in all competitions.
  • Chelsea have avoided defeat in all three previous home matches against Russian opposition in all competitions (W2, D1).
  • Zenit have won just one of four previous away matches against English opposition held within England (W1, L3).
  • Chelsea have lost just one of their last five opening home matches in Champions League Group Stage (W2, D2, L1).
  • Zenit are winless in their last 13 matches across all European competitions excluding Qualifying and Play-Off rounds (D3, L10).

 

Prediction

Without various first-team regulars on Saturday, Chelsea could of easily faced a tougher test against Villa yet they managed to deliver a clinical performance, especially in their defending of set pieces and swift pressing attacking whilst pouncing on mistakes within Villa’s defence.

Zenit though do have the quality to cause issues up front but they have kept just one clean sheet this season, which means that Chelsea should relish this early clash in terms of building up their goal difference if can repeat Saturday’s performance.

In fact with players like Chilwell and Mount set to return coupled with stars like Saul, Mateo Kovacic and Romelu Lukaku, I can see a comfortable home win coming if Chelsea can keep it clean defensively.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Zenit

Result: Chelsea 1-0 Zenit

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