Chelsea can secure qualification for the Champions League knockout stages with a win in France tonight; an undoubtedly welcome weight off of Frank Lampard’s shoulders as we approach the hectic festive period.
Our hosts this evening, Rennes, are yet to win in this year’s competition and have only found the back of their opponents net once, the reverse fixture proving to be a comfortable occasion for the Blues – a 3-0 triumph.
Edouard Mendy’s almost flawless summer arrival can continue tonight, and under special circumstances too. The Senegalese international can level Petr Cech’s staggering first 10 game record, two goals conceded with eight clean sheets, if he manages to stop his, and Cech’s former club from finding the net.
Here’s ATC’s preview of the clash.
Where to Watch
When is Kick-Off? Tuesday 24 November
What Time is Kick-Off? 17:55 ( GMT )
Where is it Played? Roazhon Park, Rennes
TV Channel/ Live Stream? BT Sport
Referee? Björn Kuipers
Kai Havertz returns to the squad following his COVID-19 absence whilst Thiago Silva could also feature after he was rested following international duty with Brazil. Christian Pulisic hasn’t been passed fit to feature and will miss out on this one.
Rennes’ hopes of a shock result will almost certainly have been boosted by the return of 18 year-old wonderkid Eduardo Camavinga. The French midfielder has already featured three times for his country and scored on his first start for Didier Deschamps’ side against Ukraine and in doing so, he became the youngest goalscorer for France since Maurice Gastiger in 1914. If anything is to trouble Mendy in goal tonight, there is every chance Camavinga will have a say in it.
Rennes’ manager Julien Stephan will be unable to call upon the services of midfielder Jonas Martin, Italian center-back Daniele Rugani and left-back Faitout Maouassa, who are all out due to injuries while left-back Dalbert is suspended.
The hosts will be without Juventus loanee Daniele Rugani because of injury and will also have to make do without Brazilian left-back Dalbert, who was rather unjustly sent off for at handball when the teams met at Stamford Bridge in early November.
Rennes: Alfred Gomis; Brandon Soppy, Damien Da Silva, Nayef Aguerd, Adrien Truffert; Eduardo Camavinga, Benjamin Bourigeaud, Martin Terrier; Romain Del Castillo, Serhou Guirassy, Flavien Tait
Chelsea: Edouard Mendy; Reece James, Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva, Ben Chilwell; N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Mason Mount; Hakim Ziyech, Tammy Abraham, Callum Hudson-Odoi
Here’s how both sides have fared in their last five games in all competitions.
Rennes 0- 1 Bordeaux ( 20/11 )
Paris Saint Germain 3-0 Rennes ( 08/11 )
Chelsea 3-0 Rennes ( 05/11 )
Rennes 2-1 Brest ( 31/10 )
Sevilla 1-0 Rennes ( 29/10 )
Newcastle 0-2 Chelsea ( 21/11 )
Chelsea 4-1 Sheffield United ( 07/11 )
Chelsea 3-0 Rennes ( 05/11 )
Burnley 0-3 Chelsea ( 31/10 )
Krasnodar 0-4 Chelsea ( 28/10 )
To Sum Up
Lampard will surely look to rest a handful of key players ahead of a huge top of the table clash with Jose Mourinho’s Spurs on Sunday and will still feel confident in advancing to the next stage of the competition all the same. This could provide Callum Hudson-Odoi with a chance to impress on the European stage once again; the 20-year-old started and scored against Russian side Krasnodar on Matchday Two.
Chelsea will feel confident that this will become another routine European night. Victory would be the first time the Blues have managed to win three consecutive Champions League matches since December 2015. A clean sheet on top of that would be the first time we have done so without conceding since November 2013. All subtle signs that the European powerhouse inside us is once again awakening.