Chelsea will play hosts to Ligue 1 outfit Lille on Tuesday night, knowing that a win will earn them a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League.
Chelsea will be looking to seal qualification for the Round of 16 stages of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League when they lock horns with LOSC Lille at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.
Chelsea are currently third in Group H, level on points with second placed Valencia and two behind leaders Ajax. A win on Tuesday would ensure that they go through to the next round of the competition irrespective of how the match between the top two sides pans out.
However, Frank Lampard’s men haven’t been in great form of late, having managed to pick up just one win in their last five matches in all competitions. The Blues’ most recent fixture ended in a 3-1 beating at the hands of Everton and they will be aiming to bounce back quickly from that and grab all three points on Tuesday.
Lille are at the bottom of Group H, after picking up just one point from their five matches till date. They have been in decent form in Ligue 1 though, having registered three 1-0 wins in a row against Dijon, Lyon and Brest. And Christophe Galtier’s men will look to end their Champions League campaign on a high with a win in London.
The reverse fixture back in October had seen Chelsea emerge triumphant 2-1, courtesy goals from Tammy Abraham and Willian. And ahead of the upcoming clash, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.
Team News & Tactics
Chelsea have been handed a fresh injury blow as Fikayo Tomori is ruled out with a hip strain, while Olivier Giroud is also set to miss out along with long-term absentee Ruben Loftus-Cheek. Lampard has been handed a huge boost though, as Antonio Rudiger is fully fit and ready for a return on Tuesday night.
There will be changes to the side that was humbled at Everton this past weekend starting from the defence where Rudiger is set to partner Kurt Zouma ahead of Andreas Christensen, who had a poor outing at Goodison Park. Reece James and Cesar Azpilicueta should once again start as the full-backs, while Kepa Arrizabalaga is the undisputed choice in goal.
Jorginho has been on the substitutes’ bench in the last two matches, but should make a return to the starting XI for the crucial game against Lille. The Italian international ought to come into the side at the expense of Mason Mount, with N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic, who found the back of the net against Everton, likely to hold on to their spots.
There are unlikely to be any changes made to the attacking trident by Lampard, meaning Willian and Christian Pulisic will start on the flanks, with Tammy Abraham forming the focal point of the Chelsea frontline.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Kepa; James, Rudiger, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Kante, Jorginho, Kovacic; Willian, Abraham, Pulisic
Lille will be without the services of striker Timothy Weah, while Reinildo and Adama Soumaoro are doubts for the game. Given that his team has been eliminated from the competition, Galtier might look to rotate his troops on Tuesday night, even though he has vowed to field a strong side against Chelsea.
Mike Maignan should hold on to his spot between the sticks for the visitors. Jeremy Pied is likely to get a rare start ahead of Zeki Celik at right-back, but Domagoj Bradaric should start on the opposite side. Jose Fonte could make way for Tiago Djalo as Gabriel Magalhaes’ partner at the heart of the Lille defence.
Xeka and Benjamin Andre started as the two central midfielders for Lille in the last game. But, the former could drop out to the bench, making way for 20-year-old Boubakary Soumare.
Renato Sanches has started Lille’s last two matches and could be given a breather on Tuesday night, along with Jonathan Bamba, who has played the full ninety minutes of the last two games. This could open up spots for Yusuf Yazici and Luis Araujo on the flanks, with Jonathan Ikone slotting in as the attacking midfielder.
In-form goalscorer Victor Osimhen ought to continue leading the line for the visitors, with former Chelsea man Loic Remy likely to feature from the bench on his return to Stamford Bridge.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Maignan; Pied, Djalo, Gabriel, Bradaric; Andre, Soumare; Yazici, Ikone, Araujo; Osimhen
- Chelsea have only lost one of their eight previous home games against French sides in the Champions League (W4 D3), although that was their last such fixture, a 1-2 loss to PSG in March 2016.
- Lille’s only win in six away games at English sides across all European competitions came at Aston Villa in the Intertoto Cup in August 2002 (2-0) – they have failed to score in each of their other five such matches in England (D1 L4).
- If Chelsea qualify to the knockout stages following this game, Frank Lampard will be the first English manager to progress a team from Champions League group stage – having taken charge of all six group games – since Harry Redknapp with Spurs in 2010-11.
- Lille have taken just one point in the Champions League this season (W0 D1 L4) – under the current group stage format, the only French side with fewer in a single campaign in the competition was Marseille in 2013-14 (0).
- Chelsea are winless in their last five Champions League games at Stamford Bridge (D4 L1); their longest run without a win in the competition on home soil.
Player to Watch
The German international has had a difficult start to the 2019-20 season. Rudiger missed the initial parts of the campaign as he was recovering from a knee injury sustained last term. He made a return to Frank Lampard’s side in September, but lasted only 45 minutes as a groin problem forced him off the field and back on the treatment tables.
There is no denying that Chelsea have had problems at the back this term and with Rudiger now ready to return to action, it comes as a major boost for the Blues. The German, with his experience and leadership, should help Lampard’s side plug some of the holes at the back.
A crucial game beckons the 26-year-old on Tuesday night, and the German will be keen on making a solid impression on his return and establish himself as Lampard’s first-choice centre-back moving forward this season.
Chelsea 2-1 Lille
Chelsea haven’t been in the best of form of late and their recent record in home matches in the Champions League hasn’t been all too impressive either. However, Lille have fared quite poorly in Europe and have struggled to get positive results away from home, having picked up just one win on the road this season in all competitions.
And that is why we at The Hard Tackle are backing Lampard & co. to pick up a win on Tuesday and sail through to the knockout rounds.