Saturday 24 March 2018

Chelsea v Msk Zilina - key battles

Chelsea begin their UEFA Champions League Group F campaign against MSK Zilina tomorrow night. Here, Press Association looks at the key battles which could decide where the game will be won and lost.

Robert Jez v Michael Essien

With Chelsea's England international Frank Lampard absent with a hernia injury, Zilina's 29-year-old captain will have to concentrate on stopping the powerhouse that is Michael Essien instead. Jez has made no secret of his pride in reaching the group stages of the competition and will be the danger man in midfield for the Slovakian side, but Essien has all the strength and guile to overcome the inspirational leader.

Momodou Ceesay v John Terry

This could be an interesting tussle if Terry is still suffering from the ill-effects of a rib injury he collected in the 3-1 Barclays Premier League win over West Ham at the weekend. Nicknamed Mamu, the Gambia international and Thierry Henry fan almost joined the Blues in 2008 and was the key figure in Zilina's run to the Champions League group stage, having joined on loan from Belgian outfit KVC Westerlo in the summer. He is still just 21 and the tall, pacey marksman could provide the former England captain with a night to forget unless the Chelsea man is at his defensive best.

Tomas Oravec v Alex

The 30-year-old Slovakia striker has enough experience and talent to provide Alex with a worrying night. The Chelsea defender will need to harness all his defensive qualities to keep Oravec in check. Oravec has a strong shot and also boasts great vision. He scored 13 in 26 games last season and Alex will need to be wary of his neat exchanges with the midfield and clever runs in behind defences. Another fascinating duel is in prospect.

Press Association

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