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What Chelsea must do to advance from their Champions League group following FC Salzburg’s draw

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What Chelsea must do to advance from their Champions League group following FC Salzburg's draw

Following last night’s draw against FC Salzburg, Chelsea sit last in Champions League Group E. The Blues have recorded one point from their opening two matches against the group’s lower-ranked teams and next face AC Milan in back-to-back European fixtures where Graham Potter will attempt to salvage progression to the tournament’s final 16…………  READ FULL ARTICLE

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There’s no getting away from the difficult position the Blues are in if they hope to progress and Potter admitted as much. He said: “We can’t lie, it’s not the position we want to be in, but we have to respond. It’s as simple as that. It’s going to be a tough group, I think, but there is enough quality in the team and squad that we can respond, and we have to look forward to those two games [against Milan].”

As per Opta, it is only the second time that Chelsea failed to win either of their opening two matches in a Champions League campaign, with it last occurring in the 1999/2000 season. On that occasion, the Blues were making their debut in the group stage of the competition having come through the qualifying rounds and were in a group with Hertha Berlin, Galatasaray and coincidently AC Milan.

However, after a draw with the Serie A side and defeat to Hertha, the Blues were able to win three of their final four games to top the group. A prime indicator that all is not lost for Graham Potter’s side this season.

Currently, the table sees Chelsea just three points behind leaders AC Milan, after Stefano Pioli’s men could also only record a draw against Salzburg, in the opening round of fixtures. With four matches remaining it is all to play for, for every team. The top two places will progress to the final 16, while the group’s third-place team will head into the Europa League.

1. AC Milan 4 points
2. Dinamo Zagreb 3 points
3. Salzburg 2 points
4. Chelsea 1 point

From this point, four wins would see the Blues progress and finish top of the group on 13 points with that scenario only allowing Milan to achieve a maximum of 10 points should they win their other two games, Dinamo Zagreb 12 and Salzburg a maximum of 11 points.

Three wins and another draw would leave a slightly more precarious position if Chelsea want to top the group. Should those wins come against Milan and Zagreb, Chelsea’s 11 points will see one of Salzburg or Dinamo able to claim the group win. If the Croatian side win out from that point they would claim 12 points, but leave Salzburg only capable of a maximum of six points. If Salzburg win their remaining games, they would finish on 12 but leave Dinamo Zagreb only able to manage six points if they win all of their games.

Should the draw come against Zagreb, they would be able to achieve a maximum of 13 points, resulting in Salzburg only being able to manage five points. If the Austrian team were to win their remaining matches instead, they could achieve 11 points but leave Dinamo on just seven points.

Wins over each group opponent and a draw with Milan, would leave the Serie A giants capable of accruing 11 points too, though neither of the other sides would be able to reach double figures should the Italian team reach that total.

Three wins alone would still likely see Chelsea claim qualification. Milan would be able to achieve a total of 13 points providing they beat Chelsea in one game and in that scenario Dinamo Zagreb and FC Salzburg would not be able to manage double figures. A draw with Milan for either team, could see the Italian side record 11 points, while Zagreb would have the potential to record 10 points which would bring them level with the Blues. The side’s head-to-head record would be compared, before heading to goal difference if that was equal.

If Chelsea record three wins but fall to Zagreb, Mateo Kovacic’s former team could still manage 15 points if they win all of their games, and in that scenario, Milan and Salzburg could not reach double figures. However, if Dinamo lost to Milan, they would finish on 12 points with the Italian team able to match Chelsea’s 10 points. The Blues should progress due to their wins over Milan in this instance.

Likewise, if Potter’s men manage three wins but lose to Salzburg in Austria, Wednesday night’s opponents could reach 14 points if they win all of their games. If they lose to Milan however, Salzburg could hit 11 points while the Italians could still reach 10, but once again Chelsea’s two wins over Milan would see them progress.

Progression may still be possible with an even worse record but becomes much more dependent on other results, while anything but a win against AC Milan at Stamford Bridge next month, will leave Chelsea under a mountain of pressure.

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