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Sarri admits concern as Chelsea defensive problems mount

22:00 IST 01/05/2019
Maurizio Sarri Chelsea
The Blues will be forced to field a relatively untested pair at centre-back for their European clash on Thursday due to injuries

Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri has admitted that his side must cope with a defensive crisis if they are to defeat Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League semi-final.

Antonio Rudiger is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery while club captain Gary Cahill has seen his hopes scuppered by an issue with his Achilles.

Subsequently, Andreas Christensen is set to link up with David Luiz in the centre-back positions, while Cesar Azpilicueta is poised to step back into the heart of the defence if any further senior players are absent.

It means Andreas Christensen is set to partner David Luiz at centre-back, with Cesar Azpilicueta ready to tuck into the heart of defence at the Commerzbank-Arena if required, in the absence of any other senior options.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference at the Commerzbank-Arena, Sarri made no secret of the fact his side are struggling with injury problems.

"We are in trouble with the centre-backs," the Italian stated.

"In the last two training sessions, we played with Azpilicueta as a centre-back in case. I think he's the only [other] one who can play there. 

"We've played 58 matches and in the past we were lucky with injuries. In the last 10 days, not so lucky.

"Christensen has played about 25 matches during the season, so he is ready.

"He's played very important matches very well. Christensen isn't the problem. The problem is the numbers."

Sarri does not also want his players to view the Europa League as an insurance policy when it comes to qualifying for Europe's elite competition, with the Blues’ grasp on the top four domestically tenuous at best.

"At the moment, we need to get the top four in the Premier League because we want to play the next Champions League," he said.

"Of course, the Europa League is important. It's a very important trophy. But we need to think about the Premier League. 

"We want to get the Champions League through the Premier League. As you know it's very difficult to arrive in the top four in the Premier League."

Sarri was keen to underline a debut season at Stamford Bridge that has garnered mixed reviews stretched his EFL Cup finalists on all fronts.

"If you think that Chelsea, for getting to the final of the EFL Cup, had to play Liverpool in Liverpool, against Tottenham Hotspur twice – Champions League semi-finalists – and Manchester City in the final, it was like the Champions League, only a League Cup in England," he added. 

"So it's very difficult to get to the Champions League in the Premier League."