Though Chelsea could still qualify for next season’s Champions League via the Premier League, it feels like Maurizio Sarri and his men are going to throw everything at the Europa League instead.
Winning Europe’s second tier competition, of course, guarantees a pathway into the following year’s Champions League. And with the Blues having been given a relatively easy route into the final, it is not hard to understand Sarri’s possible thinking.
Ultimately, this campaign is starting to look a lot like the 2013/14 one for Chelsea, though Sarri will be praying for it to end much differently.
Back then, after slipping up in the title race towards its climax, Jose Mourinho fully turned his attention to Europe as Chelsea geared up to take on Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
And after getting a 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderon, reaching that final in Lisbon was starting to look like a real possibility.
Unfortunately for the west London club, though, that obviously did not turn out to be the case with Diego Simeone’s side managing to pick up a 3-1 win in the reverse leg at Stamford Bridge.
After going 1-0 down courtesy of an Atletico Madrid legend in Fernando Torres, goals from Adrian Lopez, Arda Turan and a certain Diego Costa, turned things around to send the Spanish outfit into the final for an encounter with rivals Real Madrid.
Still, for a Chelsea team lacking a killer No.9 like the one who plotted their downfall in the competition that year, the Premier League side did well to get that far.
Had Mourinho not decided to take such a defensive approach against a starting XI deployed in an equally pragmatic way, things could have so easily gone down differently.
That sort of conservative approach to a game is exactly why Roman Abramovich turned to Maurizio Sarri after giving Antonio Conte the axe.
Yet should the Italian not be able to guide this Chelsea side to a top-four finish or win the Europa League, the doubts about whether this is the way to go will only grow.
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