Chelsea vs Shakhtar – Champions League preview and team news

Chelsea welcome the Group E leaders Shakhtar Donetsk to Stamford Bridge knowing that a victory will move them level at the top of the standings. The Ukranian side are in hot form, with a 23 game winning streak in the domestic league, and pose a huge threat to the current holders of the trophy.

Roberto di Matteo knows the importance of the tie and a defeat to Shakhtar would leave them six points behind the group toppers and two points behind Juventus, who will move to second with a win over FC Nordsjaelland in the other group outing. Chelsea will be without left-back Ashley Cole, who has been sidelined with a hamstring problem suffered in Saturday’s draw with Swansea.

John Terry’s four game domestic ban has been completed and he is expected to return to captain the side, but Frank Lampard is still ruled out with a calf strain. Juan Mata and David Luiz are expected to shake off knocks to feature in a must-win game for the Blues.

For the visitors, confidence is high after a great start to the Ukrainian season and already recording a victory over Chelsea in the last Champions League fixture. Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu has the luxury of a full-strength squad for the trip to London and defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy could return to the starting lineup after missing out on the 2-1 win over the Blues in the Donbass Arena last month.

If Chelsea do not secure a win against the Ukrainian side, their chances of reaching the knockout phases will rely on travelling to Turin and beating Juventus. Shakhtar are an imposing side and the Blues will need to be on top form on what could be a scintillating night at Stamford Bridge.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Chelsea vs Shakhtar

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