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Confirmed: Mateo Kovacic ruled out, Timo Werner decision made – Predicted Chelsea Line-up to face Porto

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The Blues head into tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Porto with a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell last week

Thomas Tuchel has the opportunity to emulate the likes of Jose Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo this evening by guiding Chelsea into the Champions League semi-finals.

The Blues go into the second leg of their quarter-final tie against Porto with the advantage of two away goals after Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell both struck in the first meeting between the two sides last Wednesday.

Due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, tonight’s game will be played in Seville. The neutral venue means Chelsea will not enjoy home advantage, but that was the case for Porto in the first leg.

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Tuchel will not find it easy to pick his side. A strong 23-man squad has been taken to the south of Spain, with only young midfielders Billy Gilmour and Tino Anjorin not among the travelling party.

So who starts?

Edouard Mendy has excelled in this season’s Champions League. The Senegal international has been beaten just once in eight appearances in the competition and, barring an unexpected injury, will start once again between the posts for the Blues.

Barring FA Cup fixtures, Cesar Azpilicueta has started every game under Tuchel and will do so again tonight. Antonio Rudiger, meanwhile, will take up his customary position on the left of the back three.

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Who takes the central role is one of the hardest decisions Tuchel has to make. Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma and Thiago Silva are all fit and in contention, but it will not be a surprise if the German opts to go with the latter.

At 36-years-old, Silva is vastly experienced and has made 86 appearances in the Champions League. He knows exactly what is required to help the Blues reach the last four.

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Reece James was hugely impressive in the first leg and will start at right wing-back. And given he did the pre-match press conference, Ben Chilwell is expected to be named on the opposite flank.

Given it is a high-stakes fixture, the temptation would be to include N’Golo Kante in the side despite the Frenchman not being 100% fit. And Tuchel wasn’t planning to go down that route.

“I will take the decision tomorrow morning about central midfield,” he explained yesterday.

“It’s hard to imagine a game like this without NG [Kante], but at the same time, we really need to be absolutely careful with him, be certain that we don’t take risks with his health and injury situation.”

However, in Chelsea’s final training session ahead of the game, which took place at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium, Mateo Kovacic reportedly suffered an injury that will keep him out of tonight’s clash.

And given Billy Gilmour wasn’t included in the 23-man squad that travelled to the south of Spain, it’s likely that Kante starts alongside Jorginho in midfield.

Chelsea scored more than twice for the first time under Tuchel on Saturday. And there was a fluidity and creativity to their attacking play that has often been lacking following the German coach’s appointment.

For that reason, there is no need for the Blues head coach to change things against Porto.

Mason Mount is undroppable and will once again start on the right of the front three.

Kai Havertz produced his best Chelsea performance at Selhurst Park and should continue in his favoured false nine role. Christian Pulisic, meanwhile, netted twice at Selhurst Park and deserves to keep his spot.

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That would mean Timo Werner is again on the bench alongside fellow forwards Olivier Giroud and Tammy Abraham. It’s not a bad trio to have in reserve if needed.

Predicted Chelsea side vs Porto (3-4-2-1):

Mendy; Azpilicueta, Silva, Rudiger; James, Jorginho, Kovacic, Chilwell; Mount, Havertz, Pulisic.

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