Chelsea will be eyeing a place in the Europa League final when they host Eintracht Frankfurt at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
The Blues came away with a 1-1 draw in the first leg and will be keen to avoid any defensive setbacks against a Frankfurt side, who are low on confidence after a disastrous 6-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in their last game.
Here are three key players who could play an important role in this crucial encounter.
Key midfielder N’Golo Kante’s season could be over after suffering a hamstring injury in the win over Watford. The extra cynosure, therefore, will be on Jorginho, who was one of the impressive performers at the weekend.
The Italian will retain his role as the holding midfielder, but with Kante out, he will be tasked with the responsibility of not only providing cover for the backline but to also deliver forward balls in the final third.
However, the likes of Sebastian Rode and Gelson Fernandes will certainly make life difficult for the former Napoli midfielder with their high-octane pressing. That means Jorginho stepping up to the plate could be imperative if Chelsea are to dominate the proceedings against Frankfurt on Thursday.
Eintracht Frankfurt will be boosted by the return of Ante Rebic this week. The Croatian forward missed the first leg due to suspension. But, his return will inject more physicality and dynamism in the Frankfurt attack.
And that’s where David Luiz could come into the fray. The Brazilian international struggled to defend against Luka Jovic, at times, in the first-leg. And the inclusion of someone like Rebic could cause further problems for the experienced defender.
Chelsea do have the insurance of an away goal. But the Blues must preserve their clean sheet this week, thus making Luiz one of the most important players heading into this game. It’s probably fair to say that his performance against Frankfurt’s offensive duo could go a long way in deciding his side’s fate on Thursday.
Kante’s injury will surely be a massive blow for Chelsea. But, it will also pave the way for Ruben Loftus-Cheek to make his return to the starting eleven.
The English international was crucial to Chelsea’s success in the first leg as he offered the much-needed physicality in midfield. He also delivered the assist for Pedro’s all-important goal by showing impressive physical prowess.
His inclusion in midfield could be even more critical for Chelsea this week, especially in the absence of Kante. He will, therefore, be given the task of disrupting Frankfurt’s flow in midfield as well as offering additional support in the final third.
Loftus-Cheek scored in the win over Watford at the weekend and will be brimming with confidence heading into this game.