Chelsea have one eye on Champions League knockouts against Salzburg

Blues still unbeaten under new manager Graham Potter

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Chelsea will aim to continue their resurgence under Graham Potter on Tuesday, with a place in the next stage of the Champions League within reach.

The Premier League club can secure progression to the knockout stages with victory over RB Salzburg at a sold-out Red Bull Arena.

Potter knows all about the dangers of the Austrian champions, having been held to a 1-1 draw by them in the first match of his Stamford Bridge tenure. Unbeaten Salzburg sit just a point behind Chelsea in the Group E standings with two rounds remaining.

The Blues are still unbeaten since Potter replaced the sacked Thomas Tuchel on September 8. But they are still suffering from the lack of firepower that led to Tuchel's exit from Stamford Bridge.

Jorginho's penalty in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Saturday is the only goal Chelsea have managed in their last two games.

Even at the height of Tuchel's time at Chelsea when they won the Champions League in 2021, goals were at a premium, with their success built on a solid defensive foundation.

Even if Chelsea lose in Austria, the team will get another chance to qualify when Dinamo Zagreb visit in the final round.

RB Salzburg head coach Matthias Jaissle urged his players to be "brave and bold" as they seek to continue to exceed expectations.

"We don't feel any pressure, we are just looking forward to the match," the 34-year-old German said.

"Our boys have performed really impressively so far, beyond what could be expected.

"We are big outsiders again, of course. We want to play brave and bold football though and frighten the great Chelsea a little.

"We know though we are playing an absolute top team that won the competition in 2021."

One area of concern for Chelsea will be the form of Raheem Sterling.

Sterling is still Chelsea's top scorer this season with four goals despite his last coming in Potter's first game in charge against Salzburg.

"It’s something we have to look at not by zooming into one person but as a team," Potter told Chelsea's website.

"We can do better but if we do better as a team, then individuals will benefit from that so that’s where the work is.

"Raheem has the flexibility, ability and quality to play in a number of positions. It’s not straightforward with us losing the players we have so we’re trying to constantly find the right balance and the right solutions but he can help us in a number of positions."

Salzburg defender Strahinja Pavlovic admits the hosts require "a near-perfect match" to pull off another shock result.

"Chelsea have really got into form, have not lost recently and not dropped many points," the Serbia international said, quoted on his club's website.

"We know we are facing another great team. We have confidence though after our recent performances.

"Of course we need a near-perfect match to trouble Chelsea. We will keep on working hard for that."

Updated: October 24, 2022, 4:44 PM
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