Chelsea returns to action in the Champions league after a disappointing 2-1 loss to Newcastle over the weekend that all but ended the club’s unbeaten run this season.
Chelsea is already through to the next stage of the Champions league as well as securing top spot in group G irrespective of the outcome of tonight encounter while Sporting are second on the log and will need at least a draw in this game to go through as group’s runner up ahead of Schalke 04 who play NK Maribor of Slovenia in the other group game.
Chelsea is playing this game simply because they need to as there is not much in it for Chelsea. Jose Mourinho will be expected to ring some changes in the team and bearing in mind the hectic December period ahead of the club, will likely give some fresh legs a chance in this game.
This game could witness a lot of new faces and fresh legs hence; we look at the likely Line-up to face Sporting Lisbon tonight.
Petr Cech is likely to be in goal for the final group game of the Champions league this season. Cech has seen limited action since the return of Thibaut Courtois from Atletico Madrid.
Cech has never had any start in the Premier League this season but has made two appearances in the Champions League. This will be another opportunity for Mourinho to give action to the Chelsea veteran while Courtois take a rest.
Cech has been as usual excellent in the cameo appearances he has made this season and Jose Mourinho has earlier said during the week that his class and quality are never in doubt. He is likely to take the spot in between the sticks for this game.
Jose Mourinho already confirmed during his press conference that captain John Terry will not be part of this game hence, the central defensive pair of Kurt Zouma and Gary Cahill will likely feature in tonight’s game. There could also be action for Andres Christensen but Mourinho will likely go with the pair of Zouma and Cahill in central defence owing to the experience that Cahill brings at the back as a cover and guide for Zouma.
Branislav Ivanovic who looked fatigued against Newcastle could also start from the bench with Ceasar Azpilicueta taking the right back position while Filipe Luis mans the left back.
Willian and Eden Hazard will be rested as confirmed by Jose Mourinho. This will give Andre Schurrle and Mohammed Salah an opportunity to claim a spot on opposite wings as attacking midfielders. Oscar could also be rested with Cesc Fabregas who will be missing Chelsea’s next game against Hull City playing as no.10.
The double pivot position could see Ruben Loftus-Cheek make his senior debut for the club. The Chelsea youth product who is just 18 has been recently promoted to the first team and Jose Mourinho have confirmed the youngster would make an appearance in this game.
He will likely be paired with Ramires while the likes of Mikel and Matic could come in at some point in the game.
Diego Costa would be the clear favourite for the top spot. The 26-year-old has not been part of a couple of game due to injury and has not registered a goal for the club in the Champions league since moving from Atletico Madrid in the summer.
Mourinho will want his prolific striker to get on the score sheet in this game hence, will likely start him upfront.
Loic Remy may also fancy his chances but it is Costa that will likely start. Costa has not scored for Chelsea lately and will want to use this game at Stamford Bridge to get back to his scoring form.
Azpilicueta, Zouma, Cahill, Luis.
Loftus-Cheek, Ramires, Salah, Fabregas, Schurrle.
Sub: Courtios, Christensen, Ivanovic, Matic, Mikel, Oscar, Drogba, Remy.