With the memory of their worst-ever Premier League defeat still fresh in their minds after a 6-0 hiding by Manchester City, Chelsea and Maurizio Sarri will be looking for a response when they travel to Malmo in the Europa League.
Their hosts have not played since last year, with their new domestic season not set to start until April, which could suggest there will be a rusty edge to proceedings.
But having shipped 10 goals in their last two away games, Chelsea will be desperate to avoid another defeat – and that concern could be their very undoing.
|Game||Malmo vs Chelsea|
|Date||Thursday, February 14|
|Time||8:00pm GMT / 3pm ET|
|Stream (US only)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|UniMas||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game will be broadcast on BT Sport 2 and will be available for streaming on the BT Sport Live app.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 2||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Melicharek, Dahlin, Tannander|
|Defenders||Nielsen, Brorsson, Bengtsson, Ahmedhodzic, Andersson, Binaku, Safari, Larsson, Vindheim|
|Midfielders||Christiansen, Lewicki, Bachirou, Innocent, Adrian, Rakip, Rieks, Traustason, Nalic|
|Forwards||Antonsson, Gall, Strandberg, Rosenberg, Molins|
New signing Dusan Melicharek will likely get the nod to start in goal after being handed the No.1 shirt by the hosts.
Otherwise, Uwe Rosler has several choices to make over who he considers to be a first-choice player for the season ahead.
Confirmed Malmo starting XI: Dahlin, Vindheim, Nielsen, Bengtsson, Safari, Traustason. Christiansen, Bachirou, Rieks, Rosenberg, Antonsson.
|Goalkeepers||Arrizabalaga, Caballero, Cumming|
|Defenders||Azpilicueta, Zappacosta, Rudiger, Luiz, Christensen, Ampadu, Emerson|
|Midfielders||Jorginho, Kante, Barkley, Kovacic|
|Forwards||Willian, Pedro, Hazard, Giroud, Hudson-Odoi, Higuain|
Ruben Loftus-Cheek is ruled out with a back injury for Maurizio Sarri, while the Italian has also revealed that he will rest Marcos Alonso for this tie.
Most notably, Eden Hazard and Gonzalo Higuain have been left out of the starting XI, allowing Olivier Giroud and Willian to return to the attack.
Confirmed Chelsea starting XI: Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Luiz, Emerson; Barkley, Jorginho, Kovacic; Pedro, Giroud, Willian.
Betting & Match Odds
Chelsea are the odds-on favourites to take the three points away from home at 9/20 with bet365. Malmo are meanwhile priced at a reasonable 15/2 and a draw is available at 7/2.
Few would have thought that Chelsea’s first knockout tie of the Europa League could carry such ramifications for the club at the start of the season – but Maurizio Sarri arguably finds his future on the line with his Valentine’s Day trip to Malmo.
Two major Premier League defeats, by a combined total of 10 goals, has ramped up the pressure on the Italian and his “Sarriball”, at a club whose chairman is known for an itchy firing finger.
Less than a year into his contract and the former Napoli boss faces a fight to keep his job following a significant slip-up in form – and a hop across the North Sea to Sweden could just be the tonic for the nerves.
Chelsea head to Scandinavia looking to put one foot firmly into the last 16 of Europe’s secondary club competition and in the hunt for silverware too, against a side yet to kick a competitive ball in 2019.
It is the first of a run of four knockout fixtures that includes a second leg at Stamford Bridge sandwiched between an FA Cup tie with Manchester United and a Carabao Cup final against Manchester City – the very side who thrashed them 6-0 last weekend.
It’s a run that could revive prospects for Sarri – or condemn him to an early exit from the club.
He will at least hope that Uwe Rosler’s side do not present the same magnitude of a challenge as his pair of Mancunian opposition over the next fortnight.
Malmo face only their second English opponent in European history, having only played against Nottingham Forest on three occasions – but Chelsea would undoubtedly be one of the biggest scalps they’ve ever claimed if they can upset the odds.