With both Lille and Chelsea having no point from their opening Group H fixtures a fortnight ago, tonight’s clash in France promising a bruising battle for Frank Lampard and his Blues gladiators from London.
Lille’s 3-0 loss to Ajax makes them favourites to finish bottom of the group but nothing is impossible in the game until the referee’s final whistle.
The 1-0 Chelsea suffered against Valencia at Stamford Bridge has not only made this tie a must win for Lampard but the one that is likely to determine whether the London club will make it out of the group as both Ajax and Valencia appear determined not to take their feet off the throttle for now.
For Lille’s Nigerian forward, Victor Osimhen, switching to the French club has sort of given his career the wings it need to go places. Osimhen has been a revelation with six goals and two assists to his name in Ligue 1. Although he could not register his name on the score-sheet against Ajax, playing before his home fans in Lille may prove a different scenario altogether for the lad who has turned out a great gamble for the Ligue 1 team.
Lampard got a lift on Tuesday morning as N’Golo Kante was among a 24-man group of players as the Blues trained in the rain at Cobham. The Frenchman’s presence was a boost to Lampard following his absence from the team’s weekend Premier League win over Brighton with a minor hamstring problem.
Also back involved were Kurt Zouma and Olivier Giroud, both of whom have been suffering lately with illness. Antonio Rudiger, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Emerson Palmieri remain sidelined.
Chelsea have had an exciting start to the season with a number of young players making an impact under the guidance of Lampard. The supporters will be hoping that they can now start to find consistency in results, with a kind run of fixtures upcoming. They lost their opening Champions League match of the season, despite having chances to win the game. The Blues now travel to face Lille, which will be a tricky fixture, but one they must win to move into a good position ahead of a difficult double header against Ajax.
Lille on the other hand were excellent last season, as they played exciting football and finished the best of the rest in Ligue 1. The undoubted star was Nicolas Pepe, while Rafael Leao has also moved on over the summer. However, they are a club that operates in the right way and more young players are coming through at the club. Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone are ready to take their games to a new level.