Chelsea head to Azerbaijan to take on surprise outfit Qarabag.
Qarabag v Chelsea – Wednesday 17:00, BT Sport 2
Chelsea can and should expect to secure their place in the next round here, and with Group C rivals Roma and Atletico Madrid facing each other, they may well wrestle control over top spot too. They beat Qarabag 6-0 at Stamford Bridge on matchday one, though the team from Azerbaijan have given a better account of themselves at this level since. Indeed, they secured a point both home and away against Atleti, while Roma were only able to triumph 2-1 when they visited Baku.
However, Atleti are having their worst season in this competition in years while Chelsea’s defence is superior to that of Roma’s (they even nicked one of their best defenders – German international Rudiger – just to stick him on the bench most of the time). Despite much improved performances from Qarabag over the last few rounds of fixtures, it remains the case that Chelsea have led at both half-time and full-time in six of their last seven against sides we have ranked outside Europe’s top 100 since 2013/14. They conceded just one goal across these games, and won five of them by four goals or more (three of them 4-0), and so the correct score is worth a punt.
Michy Batshuayi may well have hoped to be handed a rare start here, but the Belgian striker is out with an ankle injury and given Chelsea still have work to do to top the group, Alvaro Morata should be the one to lead the line. The Spaniard has five goals in The Blues’ last five away matches in which he’s played across all competitions, netting the opener against Leicester, Stoke and most recently West Brom, as well as Chelsea’s first of the game versus Atleti in Madrid.