Date: 12th April 2021 at 7:36pm
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Chelsea may have got back to winning ways in the Premier League against Crystal Palace at the weekend, but it is the seven days to come that will undoubtedly prove pivotal in determining the success of the Blues’ season. 

Thomas Tuchel’s side ran out 4-1 victors over Palace on Saturday, but now face a short turnaround before hosting Porto in the second-leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie, before then facing Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.

With the race for a top-four spot hotting up in recent weeks, Chelsea may well have to win the Champions League this season in order to qualify for next year’s competition, with a number of teams still jostling for third and fourth place.

A two-goal cushion from the first-leg against Porto may give Tuchel the comfortability to afford some of his regular starters a rest in the second leg, however he will still be adamant that his side must perform professionally and ensure their progression to the next round.

So which players will the German pick to secure the Blues’ progress?

Here’s our Chelsea predicted line-up to take on FC Porto…

Goalkeeper

Mendy is Tuchel’s number 1.

Edouard Mendy is one of a number of players who looks to have benefitted from the appointment of Tuchel in February. Since the German’s arrival, Mendy has kept an impressive 10 clean sheets in 14 games and the Senegal international will keep his place for the second leg on Tuesday. With Porto needing at leats two goals, Mendy can expect a busier night than he experienced on Saturday, as Palace managed just a single shot on target.

Defenders

Thiago Silva is still getting back up to top speed.

Tuchel has faced something of a selection headache in recent weeks, with all four of his central defenders impressing when given the chance. The return of Thiago Silva from injury left a sour taste as the Brazilian was sent off in the first half of Chelsea’s shock 5-2 defeat against West Brom, but he will likely start after only making the bench in the first-leg. Tuchel’s compatriot Antonio Rudiger has looked like a different player since the German’s arrival and can expect to start on the left of a back-three. Club captain Cesar Azpilicueta has been an ever-present under Tuchel and will once again start on the right of the back line, fresh from captaining the side for the 150th time against Palace. However, Andreas Christensen, who was imperious in both legs against Atletico Madrid in the last round in the absence of Silva, will be unfortunate to have to settle for a place on the bench.

In the wing-back positions, Reece James will be the most likely candidate to start on the right hand side, after coming on and setting up the final goal at the weekend. Callum Hudson-Odoi will be frustrated not to have impressed more on a rate start, and may well be dropped back to the bench. On the left, Marcos Alonso may return after missing the past two games, while Ben Chilwell may well have earned a rest after a busy month for club and country. Emerson still appears to be bottom of the pecking order at left wing-back, but may be given an opportunity off the bench if the Blues are in a commanding position at half-time.

Midfielders

Kante could be set to return to the XI.

N’Golo Kante will likely be recalled to the starting line-up in order to counter the attacking threat of Porto, who simply have to attack. The Frenchman played the final half an hour against Palace and his energy will be useful in nullifying Porto’s threat and allowing Chelsea to counter. Croatian Mateo Kovacic could partner Kante in a ‘double pivot’ that has become synonymous with Tuchel’s style. This means Jorginho may have to settle for a place on the bench despite starting the last two.

Forwards

Mount opened the scoring with a wonderful goal in the first-leg.

Mason Mount will almost certainly start on the right of the front-three. Undoubtedly the Blues’ player of the season so far, the England international opened the scoring in the first-leg and also impressed against Palace with a man of the match performance. With a huge game against Manchester City awaiting Chelsea, Tuchel may opt to give Christian Pulisic a rest and Timo Werner may therefore be given the nod on the left of the front line. The Germany international has struggled in front of goal all season but may benefit from Porto being encouraged to push higher up, with his pace and ability when playing on the last man two of his most impressive attributes. Tuchel demanded more from Kai Havertz after the Palace win, despite him opening the scoring and setting up Pulisic to double the lead just a minute later. The German did miss a further three good chances, and was encouraged to be more ruthless in front of goal by his manager. With Tammy Abraham seemingly out of favour and Olivier Giroud a huge impact from the bench, Havertz will likely continue in the false nine role.

 
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