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Krasnodar vs. Chelsea, Champions League: Preview, team news, how to watch

From Russia with love

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New park outside Krasnodar Stadium in city of Krasnodar Photo by Vitaly Timkiv\TASS via Getty Images

Founded right around the turn of the 19th century as a Cossack fortress, Krasnodar is a relatively new city, especially considering the vast and complicated history of the region between the Black and Aral Seas, and their team is very much a new team, founded just 12 years ago and about to make their home Champions League debut in fact.

Krasnodar’s previous top level professional team, Kuban, once managed by our old friend Dan Petrescu, was dissolved through bankruptcy in 2018 after 90 years in existence, and resurrected as a fans-backed non-league team a few months later.

Meanwhile, the new kids on the block are as ambitious as any in the country, or even Europe. Parallels with Chelsea can be easily drawn: backed by a mega-rich oligarch (retail vs. oil) hailing far away from the traditional centers of power in Russia, who’s spent vast millions on a massive football project, including state of art training facilities and youth academy, the funding of a new women’s team, and a fancy new stadium, now eyeing European football glories.

Krasnodar rose quickly up the ranks from the third division and have finished in the top four of the Russian Premier League every season since 2014-15. Though they’ve yet to win any trophies, with Sergey Galitsky’s funding and ambition, those are surely not far behind either.

Date / Time: Wednesday, October 28, 17.55 GMT; 1:55pm EDT; 11:25pm IST (8:55pm local time in Krasnodar)
Venue: Krasnodar Stadium, Krasnodar, Russia
Referee: Ali Palabıyık (TUR; on pitch); Massimiliano Irrati (ITA; VAR) — first Chelsea match for either
Forecast: Warm day (20ºC) followed by cooler night (12-15ºC) and hint of rain

On TV: BT Sport 3 (UK); Galavision (USA); Sony TEN 2 (India); SuperSport Maximo, Canal+ Sport 5 (NGA); elsewhere
Streaming: BT Sport Live (UK); CBS All Access, TUDNxtra (USA); Sony LIV (India); DStv Now (NGA) — if you’re in the US and you don’t want to subscribe to CBS because you’re not over 60 and/or don’t like Star Trek, you can also watch through Fubo TV, for which we have an affiliate link. That said, CBS does offer a free trial, and they will be carrying the Champions League for the next several years, so you might as well get used to their lack of actual television coverage. (The main CBS channel will be showing daytime soaps and local news, while CBS Sports Network will be showing a “whiparound” NFL Red Zone-style nonsense. Thanks, CBS!)

FC Krasnodar team news: After finishing third last season, Krasnodar didn’t mess too much with their squad over the summer, adding veteran defender Igor Smolnikov from Zenit and veteran winger Aleksei Ionov from Rostov, plus a couple more less notable squad players, to round out a group that already included familiar names like Rémy Cabella, Wanderson, and Viktor Claesson.

Unfortunately for Krasnodar and their young (36!) manager Murad Musayev, all three of those European imports are injured, and they’re hardly alone. Joining them on the team’s lengthy injury list are both of last season’s leading goalscorers, veteran Swedish striker Marcus Berg and Brazil-born Ari, formerly of Spartak. Others injured or doubtful include Kristoffer Olsson, Dmitry Stotsky, Yegor Sorokin, ever-present center back Sergei Petrov.

Basically, they have a boatload on injuries, and have had for a while, which has contributed to a less than excellent start to the season (18 points from 12 games; sitting midtable in 8th place currently). They lost at home over the weekend to league-leaders Spartak Moscow, who got a goal from Chelsea loanee Victor Moses on his first start for the club.

Chelsea team news news: 22 players traveled, which means we’ll only name 11 substitutes of the 12 allowed, two of whom will be goalkeepers not named Kepa Arrizabalaga, who continues to deal with a sudden shoulder injury. Marcos Alonso (suspension) and Thiago Silva (rest) also stayed back at Cobham.

The Blues have drawn five of our last six games in all competitions, and a win here would be more than welcome, both to end that streak and to set us up well for the rest of this Champions League group stage campaign.

Previously: Last time we played a Russian team was in 2012-13, when we beat Rubin Kazan in the Europa League quarterfinals. We did travel to this (general) region of the world not 18 months ago however, when we beat Arsenal in the Europa League finals in Baku, Azerbaijan. Obviously, Krasnodar and Baku have little to do with each other, but if you zoom out far enough on the map, they’re practically neighbors. Magic!

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