David Luiz will be denied a return to Chelsea’s starting XI against Atletico Madrid through injury as Antonio Conte targets the elimination of a traditional Champions League contender.
Centre back Luiz, 30, was unable to train with his team-mates at Cobham on Monday as he continues to struggle with a knee problem.
That will prevent him from replacing his apparent successor, Andreas Christensen, at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as Conte considers shuffling his pack
Luiz worked with Chelsea’s physios away from the rest of the squad as his recovery continues – although the Premier League champions continue to refuse to put a time-frame on the issue.
Chelsea have already guaranteed progress to the knock-out stages but a win against Atletico would secure top spot in Group C, while sending Tuesday’s opponents out.
‘I think this game is important because we are playing against Atletico Madrid and they have shown in the past to be an important team in this tournament,’ Conte said.
‘Now, there is a risk they will be eliminated, but we have to play a good game, to improve our confidence, and because we want to reach the first position in our group.’
Conte has warned, though, that simply taking first place in the group will not allow Chelsea an easy path to the last eight of the Champions League when the competition resumes in the New Year.
Bayern Munich, Juventus and Real Madrid are among the teams sat second in their groups as it stands, priming them as options for Chelsea to draw.
Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla and Basle are also in the runner-up positions in their groups.
‘If you arrive first, you could then get teams like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich or Juventus,’ Conte said. ‘It doesn’t change a lot if you arrive first or second.
‘The most important thing is to reach the next stage, but for our mission and our confidence, it would be right to win and arrive first.’