Can Chelsea Keep Up With European Football?

Life under Maurizio Sarri has started well for Chelsea. Four games played, four wins. As he adjusts his Chelsea team to suit his ‘Sarri-ball’ style, he surely could not have asked for a better start. However, as games start to build up with the Europa League and Carabao Cup, using the squad will prove to be vital. While Chelsea should comfortably get through the group stages, the knockout rounds will likely prove tougher. The Europa League is a tournament Sarri will be looking to win; but is their squad good enough to keep up with European football?

Are Chelsea Able to Keep Up With European Football?

How Big Is Their Squad?

Chelsea are in the fortunate position of having a squad that has an abundance of quality. The likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Cesc Fabregas and Gary Cahill are yet to start in the league. All three should be in contention to feature in the group stages of the Europa League. This leaves Maurizio Sarri in a good position as he will be able to rotate his squad to keep his players fresh. Eden Hazard is one player who may benefit from rotation as Sarri will be looking to keep his prized asset fit for the later rounds.

Those on the fringes of the first team will be who Sarri turns to first in the group stages. While Chelsea’s Europa League squad appears to be small, it features many of their Premier League squad players.

Emerson Palmieri is one player who will be hoping to feature in the Europa League. Having signed from Roma in January, the left-back has found chances few and far between. Marcos Alonso’s┬ástart to the season has shown he is one of Chelsea’s key players. However, this could mean that he is one player Sarri looks to rest and use in the knockout rounds.

The Chelsea boss should also turn to the younger members of his squad in the group stage. Ethan Ampadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi are two who should both feature against Chelsea’s group stage opponents. Despite both only being 17, they have impressed both their manager and fans in the early part of their careers. Hudson-Odoi may get opportunities off the bench, but Ampadu may be looking to start. The Welsh international is fortunate he can play in two positions, centre-back and central midfield. He has already been impressing his Welsh teammates, who say he can go far in the game.

Why Squad Rotation May Be Important

Chelsea are joined in Group L by BATE Borisov, PAOK and MOl Vidi FC. No disrespect to them, but even Chelsea should comfortably top the group. That’s why rotation in the group stage may help Chelsea. Come the second half of the season and later stages of the tournament, the likes of Hazard and Alonso should be fitter if they are used sparsely in the group stage. Rotation should mean that they stand a better chance of winning the tournament.

It will also be important as it will mean game time for the squad players. Chelsea essentially have two players for every position, meaning not everyone gets regular game time. The likes of Loftus-Cheek and Fabregas are yet to start this season for Chelsea and will hope to get their chance in the European campaign. The former will be hoping to get a chance as he stayed to fight for his place in the first team.

Sarri won’t underestimate teams though. His team selections for the Europa League will most likely not have wholesale changes as he will want to win the tournament. However, he must use the changes wisely and make sure he does not burn out his squad. The knockout rounds will prove tougher as they face stronger teams. Sarri will more than likely revert to his first choice team the further they progress.

The Verdict

Chelsea’s current squad is more than capable of keeping up with European football and the Premier League. What may prove challenging is if they pick up injuries along the way. If two or three key players pick up injuries, then their squad might feel the strain. Preventing injuries is why the likes of Eden Hazard may not feature until the knockout rounds. With or without injuries, Chelsea should be looking to win their second Europa League.

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