30 min: Sterling slips a pass down the right to feed James, who cuts a low cross back for Mount. He meets the ball first time, and sends it whistling towards the bottom left. Kalulu blocks bravely. Had he not done so, that might have beaten Tătăruşanu in the Milan goal. Lovely slick football from Chelsea.
28 min: The goal hadn’t exactly been coming … but Chelsea had started to apply a bit of pressure to the Milan defence, and quite a few in white started to make silly mistakes. Nereo Rocco will be spinning in his grave.
26 min: That’s Wesley Fofana’s first goal for Chelsea … but spiritually, it’s Thiago Silva’s, who won three aerial challenges in quick succession against Ismaël Bennacer.
Chilwell takes. Silva wins yet another header. Tătăruşanu parries, the ball pinging back into a crowded six-yard box. There’s an old-fashioned playground scuffle, then the ball breaks to Fofana, who threads into the bottom right from six yards. Scruffy, but do the Stamford Bridge majority care?!
23 min: From the resulting corner, sent in from the left by Chilwell, Silva wins another header. It’s heading towards the top left. Tomori shoulders out for another corner. From which …
22 min: Sterling juggles the ball down the right. Ballo-Toure handles. A free kick, just to the right of the Milan box. Mount takes. Thiago Silva, playing against the club he won the scudetto with in 2011, powers a header goalwards. Tătăruşanu tips over.
20 min: Tonali concedes a careless corner. Mount sends it in from the right. Fofana flings himself at it, only to shoulder the ball miles over the bar from six yards.
19 min: … and Stamford Bridge falls quiet as a result. This match hasn’t quite taken off yet.
17 min: The game suddenly turns scrappy, Kalulu and Mount taking turns to pass the ball straight out of play under no pressure whatsoever. ♫ ♪ The chaaa-aaaaa-aaaampions! ♪♫ ♪
15 min: Ballo-Toure slides in recklessly on James, catching the Chelsea defender on the top of his boot, near the ankle. A yellow card is about right, though you’ve seen players sent packing for less.
13 min: Dest takes on Chilwell down the right and gets a cross in. Chelsea clear with Giroud lurking. Milan will be pleased with their start.
11 min: Chelsea stroke it around the middle to no real effect. Mount’s shot apart, they’ve not managed to put anything together yet.
9 min: Silva clanks a simple pass into the chest of De Ketelaere, who breaks into the Chelsea half and slips wide left to Leao. The dangerous winger strides into the box only to stumble when preparing to shoot. Fofana is able to stick a foot in and poke the ball back to Kepa. For a second, Chelsea were exposed there, and are fortunate Leao momentarily lost control of his legs.
7 min: Krunic goes into the book for a late, late clip on the heel of an in-flight Loftus-Cheek. He looks pained, but can have no complaints.
5 min: … but it’s Chelsea who work the keeper first. Aubameyang, strolling down the middle, rolls a pass towards Mount on his left. Mount opens his body and steers a fine shot towards the bottom right. Tătăruşanu is forced to fingertip around for the first corner of the evening. Nothing comes of that, but Mount’s shot should settle Chelsea after their slightly cold start.
3 min: Milan are seeing most of the ball during these very early exchanges. Koulibaly, impatient and irritated, comes through the back of De Ketelaere and is lucky not to go into the book. He might have used up his early-exchange privileges.
1 min: The first free kick of the evening is awarded to Milan. Tonali swings it into the mixer from the right, and it’s easily dealt with by the home defence.
Chelsea get the ball rolling. They’re kicking towards the Shed in this first half.
Before kick off, there’s a minute of silence to remember the poor souls lost in Indonesia last weekend. Perfectly observed, apart from one clown, who is quickly told in no uncertain terms to be quiet.
The teams are out! Chelsea play in royal blue. Milan sport the lucky white away strip they’ve worn in six of their seven victorious European Cup finals. (For the record, the only final they’ve won when wearing their first-choice red and black stripes is the 4-1 rout of Ajax in 1969.) Stamford Bridge expects, with both sets of fans in good voice. We’ll be off once the Uefa marketing department have desecrated the work of George Frideric Handel.
Graham Potter speaks to BT Sport. “It’s an important game, we know that. We want to be aggressive, get the crowd involved in the game, and play well. We have to express ourselves and be positive. We’re playing against top opponents so we have to play well. The boys are in a good place, so we’re looking forward to it. Whoever plays, they’re going to be strong. We have to focus on ourselves, that’s what we can control. We’ve had some good preparation, and feel like we’ve taken a step from the previous match, so now it’s just about playing, and playing well, and hopefully getting the points.”
Tonight’s other game in Group E has just finished. RB Salzburg have claimed their first win, beating Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 at Stadion Salzburg thanks to a 71st-minute Noah Okafor penalty. As things stand, they move to the top of the group, cranking up the pressure on bottom-placed Chelsea.
Chelsea make two changes to the XI sent out for the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace last weekend. Kalidou Koulibaly makes his first appearance under Graham Potter. Ruben Loftus-Cheek is also called up. Jorginho and Kai Havertz drop to the bench.
A couple of Chelsea old boys line up for Milan this evening: Olivier Giroud and Fikayo Tomori. Erstwhile Liverpool supersub Divock Origi is on the bench.
Chelsea: Arrizabalaga, Fofana, Thiago Silva, Koulibaly, James, Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Chilwell, Mount, Aubameyang, Sterling.
Subs: Jorginho, Pulisic, Bettinelli, Chalobah, Mendy, Broja, Zakaria, Ziyech, Gallagher, Azpilicueta, Havertz, Cucurella.
AC Milan: Tatarusanu, Dest, Kalulu Kyatengwa, Tomori, Toure, Bennacer, Tonali, Krunic, De Ketelaere, Leao, Giroud.
Subs: Diaz, Rebic, Origi, Pobega, Gabbia, Mirante, Jungdal, Gala, Coubis.
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands).
AC Milan are old-school European royalty; Chelsea kings of the new. Both of Chelsea’s European Cups have been won since Milan’s last victory in 2007; the rossoneri, second only to Real Madrid on the all-time list with seven wins, haven’t got anywhere near since. In other words, this is a match-up right out of the top drawer, yet there’s been no overlap whatsoever with both clubs simultaneously in their pomp. In fact, the only time they’ve previously met was in the first group stage of the 1999-2000 Champions League, a goalless affair at Stamford Bridge preceding a 1-1 draw at San Siro, Olivier Bierhoff and Dennis Wise with the goals, both clubs in something of an unglamorous transitionary phase. Their third competitive meeting tonight sees the two megaclubs in equally middling form, but with Chelsea bottom of the Group E table after defeat in Zagreb and a home draw with Salzburg, the stakes are high and tension guaranteed. Kick off is at 8pm BST. It’s on!