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Europa League is not Sarri’s priority, PAOK vs Chelsea, Europa League

Europa League

Chelsea win against PAOK but Sarri proved Europa League is not his priority

Maurizio Sarri left three of his starting XI players: Eden Hazard, David Luiz, and Mateo Kovacic back at home when he and his side boarded a flight to Greece to face PAOK Salonika at Stadio Toumba. He left other two, Cesar Azpilicueta and Olivier Giroud on the bench as well. It was clear indication that Sarri didn’t want to risk his star players to suffer fatigue and tiredness when they resume their services back in Premier League on Sunday. Willian did win the game for Chelsea with his early strike, but it only proves that Europa League is not Sarri’s priority.

Willian strikes early for Chelsea thanks to Ross Barkley good work in the middle. It seemed Blues will start their Europa League campaign going heavy on the host, but unfortunately scoreline remains the same at the end of the match. Pedro Rodriguez, Alvaro Morata, and Willian himself parried enough chances to make it 3-0, 4-0, or 5-0.

Match stats clearly tells us that Chelsea dominated the game without their key players. They had 22 shots, maintained 69% possession, and made 690 passes with a passing accuracy of 90%. But, the revealing stats of shot on target tell that Blues were missing their decisive player in the game.

Chelsea only managed 5 shots on target out of total 22 attempts. It’s poor and disheartening fact knowing Chelsea quality and class. But, Sarri would be happy with the result. His men did the job despite leaving many stars back at home.

Sarri took a good approach to rotate his side on European tours and leaving his best men back in London to rest and get ready for upcoming matches against West Ham United and Liverpool. It was a risk worth taking as Sarri knows this match is going to reflect less on his debut success at Chelsea.

To win Europa League winning home games may be good enough, but he can’t sacrifice a single Premier League game. It’s his priority and he doesn’t want to make mistakes back in London.

Chelsea travelling fans who must be disappointed to not see Hazard play got a consolation in sweet gesture by club chairman Bruce Buck. He handed out crisps packet to the travelling fans to enjoy the match who also suffered attack in Greece before the match.

UEFA may take disciplinary actions against PAOK for their fans unruly behavior. They also created a fearsome atmosphere at the stadium by lighting flares and firecrackers.


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