Team news and stats ahead of Zenit St Petersburg vs Chelsea in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday; kick-off 5.45pm.
Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19 ahead of their final Champions League group game at Zenit St Petersburg, manager Thomas Tuchel said on Tuesday.
The Croatian, who has five league assists, was back in contention for the first time since October after an injury ruled him out of Chelsea's last eight games in all competitions.
N'Golo Kante remains sidelined with a knee issue, while Jorginho has been forced to play through the pain of a back niggle and will now miss the trip to Zenit.
Kovacic, Kante and Jorginho are all vital to Tuchel's 3-4-3 system as Chelsea's stellar defensive midfielders and the Blues have battled to offset their respective absences.
"We have bad news because Mateo was in training yesterday and with a big smile and it was a pure pleasure to have him back," said Tuchel.
"But he tested positive today, for coronavirus, so he's quarantining for a few days. So it's a huge setback for him personally and for all of us."
Asked if the resurgence of coronavirus has caused extra concerns at Chelsea generally, Tuchel added: "Yes, I was aware that this can happen, me personally.
"I'm not happy not only as a manger but also as a person. But this is the reality at the moment, we have to face it to be ready to adapt and to do the best thing possible to avoid transmission."
'Tuchel runs 'well-oiled' system at Chelsea'
Zenit boss Sergei Semak has heaped praise on Thomas Tuchel's "well-oiled" Chelsea system.
Chelsea ground past Zenit 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in September, but Semak knows the quality of craftsmanship that manager Tuchel has put into refining his tactical set-up.
"You're talking about individual players but I would like to point out the importance of the system in general, they are like a German machine, well-oiled," said Semak.
"Every person on the pitch knows what to do and how to do it. So I would like to refrain from talking about individual qualities, and concentrate more on Chelsea as a team."
Zenit cannot progress in the Champions League, but that will not stop the hosts throwing everything at Wednesday's contest.
"Playing in the Champions League is always a motivator in itself," said Semak. "We always want to show our best. It doesn't always happen but it doesn't mean we won't try and it doesn't mean we won't try to show our best qualities."
Chelsea and Juventus have booked their place in the round of 16 after the Champions League holders' comprehensive 4-0 win over the Serie A side - their heaviest-ever defeat in the competition - at Stamford Bridge on Matchday 5.
The Blues only need to match Juve's result in the final round of fixtures in order to top the group. Zenit are heading for the Europa League.
How to follow
Follow live updates on skysports.com and the Sky Sports app from 4.30pm on Tuesday; kick-off 5.45pm.
- The only previous meeting between Zenit Saint Petersburg and Chelsea came earlier in this season's UEFA Champions League, with the Blues recording a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge through Romelu Lukaku's second-half winner.
- This will be the third time that Zenit Saint Petersburg have hosted English opponents in European competition, while they have won on the previous two occasions - 1-0 v Bradford City in the UEFA Intertoto Cup in July 2000 and 2-0 v Liverpool in the UEFA Europa League in February 2013.
- Chelsea have won each of their three away games against Russian opponents in the UEFA Champions League, most recently a 4-0 win against FK Krasnodar in October 2020. As well as winning all three games, the Blues have also kept a clean sheet on each occasion.
- Including qualifiers, this will be Zenit Saint Peterburg's 200th game in European competition (currently W97 D35 L67). They will become just the second Russian team to reach 200 games across all European competitions, after Spartak Moscow (277).
- Since Thomas Tuchel's first UEFA Champions League game in charge of Chelsea in February 2021, the Blues have only conceded three goals in 12 games in the competition. Their nine clean sheets in this period is the highest total of any team, while if they keep one in this game, they will be the fastest team and manager combination to reach 10 clean sheets in the competition (13 games), ahead of Ajax under Louis van Gaal, AC Milan under Fabio Capello and Real Madrid under José Mourinho (all 14 games).
- Chelsea have won their last three games in the UEFA Champions League without conceding a goal - the only previous English team to win four consecutive games in the competition while keeping a clean sheet on each occasion is Manchester United, who did so in 2003-04 and 2010-11 under Sir Alex Ferguson.
- Excluding own goals, Chelsea have had 14 different goal scorers in the UEFA Champions League under Thomas Tuchel; the most of any team in the competition since his first game in February 2021. The Blues' top scorers in this period have scored just two goals each (Havertz, Mount, Werner, Ziyech and Jorginho).
- Artem Dzyuba has scored nine goals for Zenit Saint Petersburg in the UEFA Champions League, and could equal Hulk (10) as the club's top scorer in the competition. Dzyuba, however, has gone six games without scoring in the UEFA Champions League, with his last goal coming in November 2020 versus Lazio.
- Just four players have created more chances following carries (moving 5+ metres with the ball) than Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi in the UEFA Champions League this season (5). Two of these have resulted in assists, with only Sheriff Tiraspol's Cristiano (3) providing more assists from carries in the competition this term.
- Zenit Saint Petersburg defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy has been directly involved in three goals in the UEFA Champions League this season (one goal and two assists); more than any other player for the Russian side, including netting a 90th minute equaliser against Malmö last time out.