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Chelsea vs PAOK Europa League Preview: Hazard to miss opener

Eden Hazard has not travelled with Chelsea to Greece where they will get their Europa League campaign underway against PAOK.

Hazard has featured in every Premier League game so far this season, and scored a hat-trick against Cardiff on Saturday, but was left out of the Blues’ travelling party due to tiredness.

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Speaking about the forward, manager Maurizio Sarri said: “He told me after the national team, and the match against Cardiff, he was a little bit tired, so I thought it would be better for him to stay at Cobham and rest.

“Our target is first of all to qualify, and then to qualify in first spot in our group. So, in order to win our group, the match tomorrow [Thursday] is the most important in the group because it’s the most difficult match.”

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Chelsea have won every game they have played in so far, but PAOK head coach Razvan Lucescu says his side will be looking to keep their organisation.

“We know very well that Chelsea is one of the best teams in the world and in this moment they are going through a very good period,” he said.

“What can I tell you is we are prepared for the game, to keep our organisation as usual. We have to control in the moment that we have the ball with correct approach this situations.”

Team news

Along with Hazard, David Luiz, Mateo Kovacic and Emerson Palmieri have also been left in the UK by Chelsea and will not feature while Danny Drinkwater is not in the Europa League squad, due to UEFA regulations.

Sarri refused to confirm if Ruben Loftus-Cheek would be involved from the start on Thursday while Gary Cahill could also make his first appearance of the season for the Blues.

There are some familiar faces among the PAOK squad. Chuba Akpom joined the club from Arsenal last summer and has played alongside Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud.

Belgian midfielder Omar El Kaddouri also played at Napoli under Sarri and alongside Jorginho.

Striker Aleksandar Prijovic has returned to training following a hamstring problem and could be included by the Greek side, who have no other injury concerns.

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