Chelsea will be looking to put the Valencia defeat behind them when they travel to France to face Lille in the Champions League on Wednesday.
English clubs have not gotten off to the best of starts in the Champions League. One of them have been Chelsea, who fell 1-0 to Valencia at home, ending their first Champions League match under Frank Lampard on a sour note. The Blues did win over the weekend quite comfortably against Brighton and will be hoping to do the same against Lille.
Lille were one of the bright and surprise sparks in the 2018-19 Ligue 1 season. The French side have continued in a similar vein this season domestically and are currently placed fourth on the league table, 4 points behind current toppers Paris Saint-Germain. Lille were blanked 3-0 by Ajax in the Group H opener and the home side will hope for better fortunes against Chelsea.
With both the teams starting their Group H journey on a losing note, Lille and Chelsea will both be hungry for three points at Stade Pierre-Mueroy on Wednesday to not drift far off of qualifying for the knockout phase.
Team News & Tactics
Christophe Galtier doesn’t have many injury issues to deal with prior to the visit of Chelsea. Timothy Weah is the only one sidelined with an injury. Despite being routed 3-0 by Ajax on Matchday 1, we believe Galtier will insist on the back four that started that match.
This means that Mike Maignan will have the likes of Mehmet Celik, Jose Fonte, Gabriel and Domagoj Bradaric in front of him as his four-man defensive wall. The 4-4-2 did not quite work against Ajax, which is likely to see Lille revert to their favourable 4-2-3-1 setup.
Benjamin Andre will be the lynchpin in the midfield pivot and will be accompanied by Boubakary Soumare. Yusuf Yazici’s woeful display against Nice over the weekend will likely see him drop to the bench or perhaps, out of the matchday squad against Chelsea. Luiz Araujo and Jonathan Bamba should reprise their roles on the extreme sides of the attack.
The number 10 role will be a toss-up between Renato Sanches and Jonathan Ikone. Ikone should be the man preferred to start against Chelsea. The forward line will continue to be led by Victor Osimhen.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Gabriel, Bradaric; Andre, Soumare; Araujo, Ikone, Bamba; Osimhen
Frank Lampard’s hands are tied as far as his defensive options are concerned. The injury to Antonio Rudiger combined with the fact that Kurt Zouma is also not going to be fit in time to face Lille makes Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori’s places in the starting lineup almost certain. Marcos Alonso is also guaranteed to start, what with Emerson still sidelined.
The right-back spot could be in contention. But, there is a feeling Lampard will ease Reece James into the thick of things, which means we should see Cesar Azpilicueta retain his position on the right. Lampard is hopeful N’Golo Kante can be fit in time to start against Lille. Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic are expected to start, but Kante’s position depends on his fitness.
In case Kante is unfit to start, we might see Ross Barkley keep his place in the starting lineup. Rather, we could see Mason Mount drop into the midfield, with Pedro and Willian starting on the wings, in a pseudo 4-2-3-1 setup, especially with Christian Pulisic seemingly out of favour at Stamford Bridge. Tammy Abraham should lead the Chelsea attack against Lille.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Kepa; Azpilicueta, Christensen, Tomori, Alonso; Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Mount, Pedro; Abraham
1. The Premier League game against Brighton over the weekend marked Chelsea’s first clean sheet under Frank Lampard.
2. The victory over Brighton was also the first time Chelsea recorded consecutive wins under Frank Lampard.
3. Chelsea have conceded 10 goals in four away games so far this season.
4. Lille are undefeated so far at home this season.
5. Tammy Abraham has scored 7 goals in 582 minutes of competitive club football this season.
Player to Watch
The Chelsea academy ace has started off well in domestic competitions, blazing through opponents. But, to establish himself as a worthy candidate to be the first-choice number 9 for Chelsea in the long-term, Abraham has to replicate his form in Europe as well.
The first step will be to help Chelsea lodge their first Champions League victory under Frank Lampard and his finishing skills will have a lot of say in that matter when Chelsea go up against Lille on Wednesday. Abraham has shown himself to be a predatory finisher so far this season. But, is he worthy to lead the Chelsea line for the foreseeable future?
Lille 2-2 Chelsea
Two teams that have gotten off on the wrong foot in Group H but have immense quality about them to recover from the early defeat. Lille’s loss to Ajax was more deafening than Chelsea’s defeat to Valencia, which combined with the home advantage, should give Lille added impetus to perform well on Wednesday.
Chelsea though, are no pushovers and will come to Lille and play their own brand of football, which they have mesmerised the fans with so far this season under Frank Lampard. We expect another entertaining game from Chelsea. But, unlike Brighton over the weekend, Lille should have enough about them to trouble the score-keepers.
A scoring draw is what we are going with for when the two teams meet on Wednesday.