Chelsea stars wrap up warm for chilly Minsk walkabout as Maurizio Sarri’s team aim to preserve last remaining unbeaten record of Europe’s elite against BATE Borisov in Europa League
- Chelsea are in Belarus to take on BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League
- The players and staff took a walk out in chilly weather on Thursday morning
- Blues can secure top spot if they win and other Group L match is a draw
- Maurizio Sarri’s team are only one left unbeaten in Europe’s top five leagues
- Juventus lost their unbeaten start when they lost to Man United on Wednesday
Chelsea’s players wrapped up warm to explore Minsk as they aim to preserve the only remaining unbeaten record in Europe’s top five divisions on Thursday night.
Maurizio Sarri’s men are in the Belarusian capital to take on BATE Borisov in their fourth UEFA Europa League group match.
The Blues will confirm top spot in Group L if they beat BATE at the Borisov Arena and the match between MOL Vidi and PAOK Salonika in Budapest is drawn.
Chelsea’s stars wrapped up warm for a matchday walkabout in chilly Minsk ahead of their UEFA Europa League meeting with BATE Borisov on Thursday evening
Maurizio Sarri pictured during Chelsea’s training session in Minsk on Wednesday evening
Chelsea’s players train ahead of a game that could see them secure top spot in Group L
Chelsea will win the group if they win against BATE and PAOK draw with Vidi in Budapest
A picture posted on Chelsea’s Instagram account showed Olivier Giroud and his team-mates wrapped up in padded jackets as they went on a walkabout on the morning of the match.
Temperatures will be just a couple of degrees above freezing come kick-off time in Minsk.
Chelsea have gone 16 matches unbeaten in the Premier League, Europa League and Carabao Cup since they lost 2-0 to Manchester City in the FA Community Shield at the start of August.
After Juventus were beaten 2-1 at home by Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday night, Chelsea are the only club in Europe’s top five leagues – England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France – to still be unbeaten.
City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus have all lost just the one match in their seasons so far.
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Mateo Kovacic pictured in training on Wednesday night as Chelsea prepare for BATE
Ruben Loftus-Cheek takes on Willian during Wednesday’s training session at Dinamo Stadium
Chelsea will start as strong favourites to make it four wins from four in Group L on Thursday
Chelsea will be strong favourites to continue that sequence against BATE, who were blown away by a Ruben Loftus-Cheek hat-trick at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.
Earlier in their group campaign, Chelsea recorded 1-0 wins over PAOK and Vidi to establish a six-point lead at the top of the standings.
Sarri said on the eve of the match in Belarus that he intends to field Eden Hazard, but in-form striker Alvaro Morata has been left at home with one eye on Sunday’s Premier League game with Everton.
Hazard missed three matches with a back injury, returning as a substitute in last Sunday’s 3-1 home win over Crystal Palace, which featured two Morata goals.
The Spain striker has five goals in his last six Chelsea appearances but has remained at the club’s Cobham training base and not made the trip.
‘He played three matches in a row, so I thought it was better for him to stay in Cobham to rest and to have two good training sessions,’ the Blues head coach said.
Chelsea’s talisman Eden Hazard is set to play some part having recovered from a back injury
In-form Spanish striker Alvaro Morata has not made the trip to Belarus for the match
Chelsea’s unbeaten run
August 11 Huddersfield Town (A) 3-0
August 18 Arsenal (H) 3-2
August 26 Newcastle United (A) 2-1
September 1 Bournemouth (H) 2-0
September 15 Cardiff City (H) 4-1
September 20 PAOK Salonika (A) 1-0
UEFA Europa League
September 23 West Ham (A) 0-0
September 26 Liverpool (A) 2-1
Carabao Cup third round
September 29 Liverpool (H) 1-1
October 4 MOL Vidi (H) 1-0
October 7 Southampton (A) 3-0
October 20 Man United (H) 2-2
October 25 BATE Borisov (H) 3-1
UEFA Europa League
October 28 Burnley (A) 4-0
October 31 Derby County (H) 3-2
Carabao Cup fourth round
November 4 Crystal Palace (H) 3-1
‘It’s normal for a player to play three or four matches and then rest. Otherwise, we can have a squad with 13 or 14 players.’
The Italian reverted to his native tongue in an animated explanation, apparently riled by his decision being questioned.
David Luiz, Antonio Rudiger and Marcos Alonso were also left in London, while Cesc Fabregas was a late withdrawal with illness, necessitating a call-up for N’Golo Kante, who otherwise would have been rested too.
On Hazard travelling, Sarri added: ‘There is not any risk, otherwise he would stay in Cobham, of course.
‘We thought for him it’s better to play, not for 90 minutes, but to play after two weeks without training.
‘In the last match he played only for 30 minutes. The best for him is he will play 45, 50 minutes.’