Why Chelsea Are The Darkhorses In The Champions League This Season
Antonio Conte’s Champions elect Chelsea managed to start their Champions League campaign with a thumping victory over an unknown Qarabag FK side, a top tier club in Azerbaijan. They have also fought back well after the opening day loss to Burnley in the Premier League and are now one of the most in-form clubs in England.
They remain the last Premier League side to have lifted the Champions League trophy and though they failed to even qualify for the event last season, they have made a superb start to their European campaign this time around.
The Italian manager lost two of his first team stars in Nemanja Matic and Diego Costa (not literally though) in the summer transfer window and though the likes of Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and even Danny Drinkwater will do enough to replace them, they are not the strongest team in the competition.
However, that did not stop them from conquering the Premier League title last season, with a less than strong squad, and Conte will know that his side have a great chance to repeat that feat, this time in Europe.
The Blues are a team that are hard to beat. The former Juventus gaffer has established a style of play at the club that makes it difficult for opponents to score against them regularly. Though the backline for Chelsea has an off-day at times, it is one of the most effective partnerships in top flights across all of Europe.
The likes of David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta and Gary Cahill have been in decent form while Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen have done the job whenever required. This is not a star-studded unit but is definitely an effective one.
They are only helped by the energy and industry of the French midfield duo Tiemoue Bakayoko and N’Golo Kante, two of the best in Europe. Cesc Fabregas can come off the bench and add productivity to the midfield while Danny Drinkwater and his experience will come in handy when they need to shut games off.
Victor Moses, Marcos Alonso and Davide Zappacosta have all been in decent form and have worked well as a unit but there are some weak links in the squad. However, Conte’s system has allowed them to play to their strengths and excel on a consistent basis.
To add to it is, Eden Hazard’s creativity in the final third. The Belgian star is right up there with the best play makers in Europe and will be the biggest threat to clubs that face Chelsea in the UCL this season. He will work in tandem with Alvaro Morata, who has immense pedigree at the European level. Then there is Pedro as well, who is no mug.
Willian and Batshuayi are more than able backups, making Chelsea a stronger unit than what they actually appear to be. They may not be the favourites to run away with the Champions League trophy but the Blues are definitely the dark-horses in the competition this season. Can the Blues go all the way? Let’s wait and watch.