Graham Potter speaks to BT Sport. “We left for a good experience, a good know-how. I won’t say too much, you can keep guessing! We have been working for a few days, and we hope to use the qualities of the players. The response was fantastic from the boys. Salzburg have a very clear idea of how they want to play. They’ve done fantastic things to get here, they’re a solid team so we’re looking forward to the game and the challenge. There is a feeling that we have to react. We have to play well. I had forgotten that I had actually attended a Champions League match! It was Manchester City against Dortmund. We were scouting. City won 7-1 so I think I put it out of my head.
He got it out of his head. Manchester City have never put more than two goals past Dortmund. Could Potter be thinking of Dortmund’s great Ruhr rivals Schalke, whom City beat 7-0 in 2019? What a shame, Graham! They will not let this fall in North Rhine-Westphalia. Either way, the plot thickens.
Pre-game mailbag. “I think Chelsea would create more chances with Todd Boehly’s favorite 4-4-3. It would give Christian Pulisic the opportunity to be the extra man. Sports satirist Gary Stover, ladies and gentlemen, picks up there where today’s Fiver left off…
Milan beat Dinamo Zagreb 3-1. The seven-time champions thus take the lead in group E, ahead of the Croats.
The other Group E game is already underway… and Milan led 3-1 against Dinamo Zagreb. Olivier Giroud put the rossoneri in front on the stroke of half-time from the penalty spot. Alexis Saelemaekers made two just after the break, but Mislav Oršić pulled one back just before the hour mark. But Brahim Diaz just slid into the inside left channel and cut one off the starting line, leaving the replacement Tommaso Pobega absolutely roof one from the edge of the box. Ten minutes to the San Siro, and it looks pretty much everywhere.
Graham Potter’s first act as Chelsea manager is to make three changes to the squad Thomas Tuchel last chose last week in Zagreb. He recalls Thiago Silva, Marc Cucurella and Jorginho, who replace benches Ben Chilwell, Wesley Fofana and Kalidou Koulibaly. Edouard Mendy suffers from a knee problem, while N’Golo Kante is paralyzed.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, James, Azpilicueta, Thiago Silva, Cucurella, Kovacic, Jorginho, Mount, Havertz, Aubameyang, Sterling.
Replacements: Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Bettinelli, Chalobah, Broja, Zakaria, Chilwell, Ziyech, Gallagher, Koulibaly, Chukwuemeka, Fofana.
Red Bull Salzburg: Kohn, Dedic, Bernardo, Pavlovic, Ulmer, Capaldo, Seiwald, Kjaergaard, Sucic, Fernando, Okafor.
Replacements: Mantl, van der Brempt, Piatkowski, Baidoo, Kameri, Adamu, Koita, Simic, Diarra, Gourna-Douath, Sesko, Walke.
Arbitrator: Ivan Kruzliak (Slovakia).
Last Tuesday in Zagreb was maybe as good as last year, considering everything that has happened since. But let’s not dwell on the subject. We’re all there now, with Graham Potter at the wheel, and Chelsea needing a result to kick off their Group E campaign.
This is Potter’s first time attending a Champions League game, let alone one. But he has plenty of European experience, having taken Swedish minnows Ostersund to the 2017-18 Europa League round of 16, knocking out Galatasaray along the way, as well as a 2-1 win at Arsenal. No wet upstart behind the ears.
Chelsea are strong favorites to give Potter a winning start to his reign. They could certainly do with the three points after last week’s abject display against Dinamo Zagreb. History suggests Salzburg will comply – the Austrians have lost on their three previous visits to England – despite scaring off Liverpool at Anfield in 2019 as the level draw was three, only to lose 4-3 . Kick-off tonight is at 8pm BST. It’s on!