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Predicted Chelsea XI to face Slavia Praha in the Europa League

Chelsea put up a brave fight against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday but that wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-0 defeat, which dealt a blow to their chances of securing a top-four finish in the Premier League.

The Blues return to European action on Thursday night for the second leg of the Europa League quarter finals against Slavia Praha at Stamford Bridge.

Maurizio Sarri’s side came away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away from home last week over their Czech Republic opposition, courtesy of Marcos Alonso’s late winner and they will be the favourites to progress to the last four.

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Antonio Rudiger limped off with a knee injury in the defeat away at Liverpool and he will be expected to miss the Europa League clash on Thursday. Marco van Ginkel and Ethan Ampadu are other absentees for the Blues due to long-term injuries.

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Manager: Maurizio Sarri

Formation: 4-3-3

Predicted XI

1. Kepa Arrizabalaga (GK)

The Spaniard was hardly at fault for either of the goals against Liverpool and should retain his position between the sticks for this one.

2. Cesar Azpilicueta (RB)

He did a good job against Sadio Mane on Sunday and there is no reason why Chelsea should bench their captain.

3. David Luiz (CB)

A lot will rest on the Brazilian’s shoulders in the absence of Rudiger and Chelsea will need to to provide that sense of reliability and calmness at the back.

4. Andreas Christensen (CB)

The Dane came on as a substitute to replace Rudiger on Sunday and he should get a start in the Europa League fixture in the German’s absence.

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5. Marcos Alonso (LB)

The Spaniard’s late strike gave the Blues a slight edge in the Europa League quarter final draw and Sarri should hand him a start ahead of Emerson who was pathetic on Sunday against Liverpool.

6. Jorginho (CDM)

The former Napoli man didn’t have much influence against Liverpool but he has always been an ever-present under Sarri.

7. Mateo Kovacic (RCM)

The Croat filled in the boots of Kante last week but he didn’t feature against Liverpool, which might be an indication that he is going to start the second leg.

8. Ruben Loftus-Cheek (LCM)

The youngster had a decent outing against Liverpool and Sarri should hand him a start ahead of Ross Barkley.

9. Willian (LW)

The veteran didn’t have the best of games against Liverpool but one would expect him to start on Thursday ahead of Eden Hazard who might be given a rest.

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10. Pedro (RW)

The former Barcelona ace has been an influential presence up front for the Blues he deserves a start ahead of Hudson-Odoi, who had a quiet outing on Sunday.

11. Olivier Giroud (ST)

The Frenchman has been in terrific form in the Europa League this season and his experience and hold-up play might prove to be a deciding factor on Thursday.

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