UEFA Champions League: Comeback time for the Blues
2016/2017 Premier League Champions Chelsea are back in the Champions League after missing out last season. They comfortably won the English Premier League under their new manager Antonio Conte.
Chelsea make their return to the Champions League with a home clash against Azerbaijani champions Qarabag on Tuesday. The Premier League champions did not qualify for the competition last season and will be hoping to leave their mark during this campaign as they contemplate further games against Atletico Madrid and Roma. Antonio Conte won the competition as a player with Juventus in 1996, but has yet to get his hands on it as a manager and he will be optimistic about his side's chances as they kick things off at Stamford Bridge.
Eden Hazard could potentially return to the Chelsea starting XI after making his return to action from the substitutes bench on Saturday. New signings Davide Zappacosta and Danny Drinkwater could also feature, but the latter is fighting to recover from a calf injury and may be forced to wait. One player who looks certain to start for Chelsea is Alvaro Morata, who has adjusted to life in England well with three goals already in the Premier League. Morata was part of the Real Madrid squad that won the Champions League in 2014 and last season.
After suffering a disappointing defeat to Burnley in their opening Premier League game of the season, Chelsea have gone on a three-game winning streak and come into their Champions League opener in good form. Conte has managed to shake off suggestions that his Blues would struggle this season by beating Tottenham, Everton and Leicester, but they will face an altogether different challenge on the continental stage with matches against Atletico Madrid and Roma on the horizon.
First though, they commence their European odyssey against Azerbaijan's Qarabag, who are the lowest seeds in the group, but who Conte believes represent a "tricky" task for his players.
Little will be expected of Qarabag in their debut in Europe's top competition, particularly with Atletico Madrid and AS Roma making up the rest of Group C. This is likely to be a very easy win for Chelsea and would be the perfect way for them to open their Champions League account after a long time away from the tournament.