What a difference movement can make!
Chelsea took on reigning French champions Lille at Stamford Bridge for the Champions League Round of 16 first leg. Lille selected a strong lineup with the likes of David, Bamba and surprisingly Sanches all starting for Les Douges. Tuchel selected a strong lineup as well with Mendy in goal and a back three of Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger. Azpilicueta, and Alonso made up the wingbacks with Kovacic, and Kante as the midfield two. Havertz started up top in place of Lukaku with Pulisic, and Ziyech playing as the wingers. A strong lineup, Lukaku dropped and Chelsea were ready to go.
The Blues started the game brilliantly with Kai Havertz going close in the opening few minutes thanks to a brilliant ball by Azpilicueta. Havertz then got a shot off which resulted in a corner. Ziyech took the corner and Havertz headed it in to give Chelsea the lead in the 8th minute. Post the goal though Chelsea didn’t have the same impact of the opening 10 minutes. Sanches helped Lille grow into the game and they created some half chances but nothing to test Mendy directly. The half ended with Lille having had more shots but Chelsea had more on target and were more efficient.
The 2nd half started saw Chelsea start with the same ferocity as they did the first half. Pulisic especially made some good driving runs and Havertz was a constant nuisance. The 2nd goal came in the 63rd minute as Kante drove forward from the midfield and played in Pulisic who finessed a shot into the goal. 2-0 up and comfortable. Chelsea searched for the 3rd goal but Lille held tight to keep the scoreline at 2-0. A good win overall.
Chelsea Team Review
Another cleansheet for Mendy as he had a generally comfortable game. Some simple catches to make but nothing stunning needed. Mendy continues to have a stellar record in the Champions League and Chelsea overall and long may it continue.
Christensen, Silva, and Rudiger all had brilliant games. Silva especially looked very good and that is a testament to how he treats himself and keeps himself fit. A joy to watch. Azpilicueta was solid but Alonso had a shaky afternoon and Tuchel was visibly frustrated by him throughout the game. Sarr did come on in the 2nd half for Alonso to add a bit of energy.
Kante and Kovacic had a solid game and Kante especially returned to form after having put in some poor performances over the last few games. Kovacic sadly had to come off but hopefully it isn’t a serious injury. Loftus-Cheek came on for him and did well, he took control of the ball and distributed it well, along with using his physicality. Saul also came on in the 2nd half and added extra grit to the midfield. A solid performance overall.
Pulisic had a very good game and was a constant threat throughout. Later in the 2nd half he also tracked back well to help out in defence. It looked like the Pulisic of two seasons ago. A deserving goal scored as well. Havertz was a breath of fresh air up front after having seen Lukaku there for several games. Constant movement, constant threat and the whole attack just seemed to flow and funtion better. It was a pleasing performance on the eye and another goal to his name. Ziyech got an assist and had a good game but was relatively quiet. Ziyech did have to come off and one will hope he is ok. Werner did come on for the final 10 minutes and also provided threat. He managed seven touches in 10 minutes which is more than some can manage over 90. A fluid and exciting attack.
Tuchel will be pleased with the overall performance but he did mention that he didn’t like the way we allowed Lille to grow into the game in the first half. A win and a cleansheet is good though and gives Chelsea a solid footing going into the 2nd leg. Next up is a vist to Wembley on Sunday for the Carabao Cup final against Liverpool. COME ON CHELSEA!!!