Champions League is back!
Chelsea return to their Champions League campaign on Tuesday night as they take on French champions Lille in the 1st leg of the Round of 16. Lille won Ligue 1 last season but the summer saw them lose Galtier to Nice and several players left the club over the next two windows leaving them in a very different place. Currently Lille sit 11th in Ligue 1 having won 9 drawn 9 and lost 7. A very inconsistent season. Lille in the Champions League still managed top their group winning 3 drawn 2 and losing 1. Since the last group game they have won 4, drawn 2, and lost 3. Simply going by the results inconsistent is the best word to desrive Lille this season.
Chelsea go into this game having beaten Palace 0-1 over the weekend. Chelsea finished 2nd in the group stage and that is why the home leg comes first for the Blues. Chelsea have won 11, drawn 5, and lost 1 since the last group stage game. It’s the draws that have cost Chelsea in the league as the attack continues to struggle. Chelsea are also involved in all competitions which while being great also means that the players have played more games than most teams. Pre-match the main topic was Lukaku. Tuchel summed it up nicely though that strikers struggling at Chelsea is not a new thing. It might be a combination of the system and player working together along with some key missing players like Reece, and Chilly. Other than though Tuchel said that the team felt better now after struggling with jet lag and a cold for the Palace game.
Chelsea Team Preview
Chelsea will be without Reece James and Ben Chilwell as usual. Hudson-Odoi was not seen in open training so will probably miss the game. Mount did train but might not be risked for this game. Azpilicueta is back. Mendy should start in goal with a back four of Chalobah, Christensen, Rudiger, and Sarr. Jorginho and Kovacic should make up the midfield two with Werner, Havertz, adn Ziyech making up the players behind Lukaku who should start again. If it were me I wouldn’t mind going 4-3-3 and maybe playing Loftus-Cheek alongside Kovacic, and Kante and moving Havertz up top in place of Lukaku. Lukaku did not have a great game against Palace but I do get the feeling that Tuchel will persist with him. The players do need to provide him with more passes but the striker has to show more movement. The bench should be strong and there should be plenty of options.
Lille Team Preview
Lille should not be taken lightly. They still have several exciting players that can cause Chelsea plenty of damage if the team is not awake. Fonte, and Botman form a decent centre back partnership. Bamba, Jonathan David, Burak Yilmaz, Renato Sanches, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Timothy Weah are all players that are exciting and can create and finish chances. Lille should probably set up in a 4-4-2 and look counter with pace.
Starting XI Prediction
There are no more away goals in the Champions League this season which should see home teams attack more and away teams defend more. Another cup competiton for Chelsea and the players will love it. The attack has to click as it has to in every game. Ziyech has been the only standout performer over the last few weeks. Lukaku needs to have a big game if he wants to avoid getting further criticism. An interesting game for sure. COME ON CHELSEA!!!