Chelsea take on Zenit St Petersburg in their first Champions League game since being winning the title and Thomas Tuchel has plenty of options to pick from this Tuesday
Chelsea have an array of options going into their opening Champions League match of the season.
They host Zenit St Petersburg at Stamford Bridge, their first match since being crowned European champions following their victory over Manchester City last season in the final.
Defending their title will be top of the list of priorities for Thomas Tuchel, who would further write his legendary status with the Blues by doing so.
Perhaps in preparation for Tuesday’s game, the Blues boss made some big changes to his line-up against Aston Villa with the likes of Mason Mount, Jorginho, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen dropping to the bench on Saturday.
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Saul Niguez made his debut but was roped off after 45 minutes after a shocking first-half display where he gave the ball away on numerous occasions.
Hakim Ziyech and Callum Hudson-Odoi also got their first starts of the season as Tuchel flexed Chelsea’s squad strength in a 3-0 win over the Villans.
Whether they start on Tuesday night remains to be seen, with the German likely to revert to his trusted deputies as they look to start their group stage campaign in the Champions League with three points.
One player that could see some much-needed game time is Ben Chilwell, who has fallen behind Marcos Alonso in the pecking order.
Tuchel has insisted that is down to the Spaniard spending more time with him on the training pitch over the past couple of months with Chilwell in the England setup over Euro 2020.
Nevertheless, the former Leicester star is renowned for his incredible stamina while England pal Mount has returned to the first-team fold with no problems.
Chelsea will almost definitely field the same formation that has brought them so much success over the past nine months.
That means Edouard Mendy will start in goal behind a back-three of Christensen, Thiago Silva and Antonio Rudiger.
Azpilicueta and Chilwell could make up the wing-back roles with Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in midfield.
Further forward, Romelu Lukaku is undroppable while Mount and Kai Havertz could operate either side.
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If Tuchel wanted to bring more firepower into his formation, he could change his 3-4-3 to 3-5-2 – switching one of Mount or Havertz for Timo Werner to start up top alongside Lukaku.
It was a system that RB Leipzig played under Julian Nagelsmann in the 2019-20 season where Werner scored 34 times prior to his move to west London.
In this system, Alonso would likely return to the fold having performed better in the wing-back role – a position that is made even more important in such a formation.
But if Tuchel was feeling adventurous, he could completely switch the team and play a back four with Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Silva and Chilwell.
Jorginho could hold the base of midfield with Kovacic and Mount on either side while Lukaku led the line and Havertz and Werner on the wings.
Doing so would be a bit of a shock but it is not entirely out of the question as Tuchel had ambitions to play a back-four when he first joined Chelsea, before deciding on a three-man defence.