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Koulibaly misses Salzburg trip as Chelsea look to secure top spot in Champions League group

Team news from the head coach

Brentford FC v Chelsea FC - Premier League Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

It’s not been overly impressive from Graham Potter’s Chelsea over the past couple matches, despite the new head coach’s unbeaten start to life at the club now reaching eight games. The attack has faltered and our goal has led a bit of a charmed life, but if we can get all three points tomorrow night in Salzburg, we will have assured not only a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, but also pretty much top spot in Group E (barring some unlikely results for Dinamo Zagreb). Top spot usually gets you a better draw, probably avoiding the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern early on in this case.

It’s obviously not a must-win game, but it would be a (very) nice-to-have win. And of course the team’s mentality should still be to win every game. It is the Chelsea way, or at least should be.

“It would be nice to win and we know the consequences – but our thoughts are just on winning the match. We know how tough it will be and we must take on the challenge.”

“Salzburg are a very good side. We saw their quality when they came to Stamford Bridge so we expect a tough match and we’ll have to match their intensity.”

-Graham Potter (paraphrased); source: Football.London

Our task will not be made any easier with the absence of Kalidou Koulibaly, who has not recovered from his supposedly minor knee injury in time, and will miss out just as over the weekend. Everyone else is fit enough to at least travel.

“It’s not too serious. This game was too soon for him. We’re hoping to get him on the grass Wednesday or Thursday, but he’s obviously not available for tomorrow night.”

“[Cucurella also] had a couple of issues, a bit of illness, he’s been on antibiotics, but he’s a lot better. [The substitution against] Manchester United was purely tactical, a need to get an extra body in midfield. He was the one to come out probably because of all the things that have happened to him. A bit unlucky there.”

-Graham Potter; source: Chelsea FC

Salzburg have an excellent home record — they haven’t lost at home in 20 months, since a 2-0 reverse against eventual Europa League-winners Villarreal in February 2021 — and they also know that a win would similarly guarantee them a place in the Round of 16.

Let’s go!

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