Before arriving at Chelsea in the summer of 2016, Michy Batshuayi had already tasted European competition in the colors of Standard Liege and Olympique Marseille, but never once did he have the chance to play a Champions League match ... until yesterday.
Much like N’Golo Kanté, Marcos Alonso, and Davide Zappacosta, Batshuayi made his debut in Europe’s premier club competition on Tuesday night — Bats and Marcos had Europa League experience, but the other two were brand new to Europe — chosen by head coach Antonio Conte to spearhead the Chelsea attack for the first time since the opening day fiasco. Fortunately, the game against Qarabag went just a tad bit better than that 3-2 loss to Burnley, both in terms of Michy’s individual contribution and the team’s collective, overall performance.
"It was good for the team. The clean sheet also and for me and for Marcos Alonso, Davide Zappacosta and N’Golo Kante, it was our first game in the Champions League and to win the first game is very good. You know I don’t play every game but when I have time [on the pitch] it is good to score."
Heavy changes were expected from Conte's usual starting line-up in anticipation of Qarabag’s terribleness, but the Chelsea boss kept the rotation to a reasonable degree and filled his bench with all first-team player. He could have easily gone a bit further by handing Charly Musonda, for example, at least a place on the bench, but there should be plenty of opportunities for such experimentations in the future. For now, the important part was to start our Champions League campaign with three points and keep the squad fresh for the Arsenal game coming up on Sunday.
"No game is easy in the Champions League. Every game is a good game so you stay focused to try to win every game. Now I concentrate on the next game with Arsenal and to train well and try to win the game."
-Michy Batshuayi; source: Chelsea FC
Michy and those who rotated in for Tuesday’s game will likely be back on the bench for Sunday’s game, but we will need them all to contribute again, and often, if Chelsea are to mount a proper Premier League title defence while also competing in the Champions League.