Chelsea return to Champions League action this week as we travel to Dortmund to take on high-flying and in-form Borussia Dortmund, who are smack-dab in the thick of the Bundesliga title race and arrive to this game on the back of six straight wins in all competitions. They’ve yet to lose in 2023; we have to look for wins with a microscope.
Now, in years past, this would be the time for a classic Chelsea narrative turn: something like a 2-0 away win and a 1-1 home draw to advance to the quarterfinals. But we’re living in different times now, with different vibes. That said, our group stage campaign was fairly successful despite the inauspicious start, so maybe we’ll make an unlikely run. We do have the talent.
Speaking of talent, we were still missing the likes of Mateo Kovačić, Denis Zakaria, and Wesley Fofana this weekend, with Raheem Sterling also suffering a minor setback — it’s unclear if any of that quartet might be ready to feature on Wednesday. N’Golo Kanté and Christian Pulisic certainly won’t be ready, while Édouard Mendy and Armando Broja are working to longer timelines.
We were unable to register all of our new January signings as per competition rules, so we won’t be able to count on Benoît Badiashile, Noni Madueke, or David Datro Fofana. And of course Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who started all six of our group games, scoring twice, was deregistered as well, not that he’s come close to playing in recent weeks anyway.