Chelsea have a free hit against Dinamo Zagreb having already qualified from and won their Champions League group.
After struggling to get one point from their opening two Champions League games this season, Chelsea have manged to become Group E winners with a game to spare following their 2-1 win over Red Bull Salzburg. The Blues still have Dinamo Zagreb to play but their 10 points have ensured that only AC Milan can draw level, and Graham Potter’s side would win the head-to-head tie break after defeating the Italian side twice.
Chelsea have already played eight matches this October, with a clash against Brighton to come before welcoming their Croatian opponents to Stamford Bridge in just under one week time. With the fixtures continuing to come quickly ahead of the World Cup, it will provide the perfect time to rest and rotate the squad, and to perhaps give some of Chelsea’s development squad the opportunity to experience a Champions League matchday.
Potter has already indicated their could be some rotation, but caveated it with winning being his priority. He said: “We’re at home at Stamford Bridge and we’ll try our very best. We want to win every game we play, that is the mentality we have to have. But clearly, we have a game at the weekend and another game the weekend after, so maybe we can rotate a little bit. But we will try our best.”
Chelsea’s Champions League list A squad cannot be altered until February, following the winter transfer window, ahead of the competition’s final 16 stage. However, the B list can be changed ahead of each fixture. The Blues are able to register an unlimited number of players, providing they are submitted no later 24:00 CET the day before a match.
However, to be eligible for the B list, players must be born no earlier than 2001 and have spent at least two uninterrupted seasons at the club they represent. Potter will have quite the selection of players to choose from, though the club’s development side will have a UEFA Youth League fixture of their own to complete. However, the under-19 side are unable to qualify for the next stage of that.
Chelsea have already added three names to their B list over the course of this season. One of those is Armando Broja who still qualifies for the list, and the west London side have taken full advantage to ensure they have room to spare on their A list. That has helped allow the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka appear in the Blues’ squad despite not fulfilling B list criteria.
Lewis Hall and Charlie Webster are both already on the B list too, perhaps as a fail-safe to ensure the Blues can add another player to their squad in case of a late injury. Nevertheless they are both now eligible to be named in the Chelsea squad ahead of Dinamo, should that prove more suitable to their development than the Youth League clash against the same time.
Hall has already made his debut with an impressive performance against Chesterfield and he has continued to be a key part of the development squad this term. The 18-year-old has taken on a more advanced role in the centre of midfield in 2022/23 having had to deputise in defence last year and recorded nine goal contributions in 18 appearances this year.
Webster has yet to make his senior debut for the Blues but has been frequently pictured in first team training under Potter, and pulls the strings in the midfield of the development squad. While there’s no guarantee either will be involved, they will be eligible to be.
Of course, the B-list can be added to, and those who are too old for the UEFA Youth League may be best placed to take advantage. Youngsters such as Dion Rankine, Josh Brooking and Ben Elliott may be hopeful for an opportunity to train with their senior counterparts ahead of the match.