Chelsea, the defending champion of the Champions League, looks this Wednesday at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium, against Lille, -from 3:00 p.m. Colombian time-, a meeting that will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 2, to forget their institutional crisis, marked by the departure of Roman Abramovich, and definitively advance to the quarterfinals of the continental competition, after putting their pass on track in the match outbound at Stamford Bridge.
Thomas Tuchel’s men, who arrived euphoric with their Club World Cup title, put themselves in the tie thanks to a header from German Kai Havertz; and another by American Christian Pulisic, after a spectacular gallop by Frenchman N’Golo Kanté, to score the final 2-0 and get a foot in the next round.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, everything has changed at the club, which precipitated the farewell of owner Roman Abramovich after more than two decades at the helm and caused the entity’s assets to be frozen, but not on the pitch, where the blues have five wins in a row in the Premier League.
Only defeat on penalties in the Carabao Cup final has tarnished the Londoners’ nearly unblemished record, with 10 wins from their last 11 matches in all competitions. Tuchel’s men, isolated from the institutional situation, will seek to take another step in Lille without the injured Reece James and Ben Chilwell.
The German coach will have his compatriot Kai Havertz at his disposal, scorer of the solitary goal of the weekend victory against Newcastle (1-0), another in the one achieved at home against Norwich (1-3) and of a brace against Burnley. His prominence has overshadowed Romelu Lukaku, who is still unable to find his place in the team.
Meanwhile, Lille appeals to the epic to try to overcome the adverse result of the first leg, although it is far from the benefits that led him last year to proclaim himself champion of Ligue 1 ahead of Paris Saint-Germain. Despite the fact that he has accumulated five points points in the domestic competition, he is 22 points behind the head and does not even occupy European positions.
Over the weekend, Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men ran into a relegation team, Saint-Étienne (0-0). “We had a lot of the ball, but offensively we weren’t dangerous enough. We need to be more successful in their field and make them defend more involved in their area, ”warned the French coach about the duel at Stamford Bridge.
However, he will be without one of his best men, Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches, with a hamstring injury. Above, the Frenchman Hatem Ben Arfa seems called to accompany the Canadian Jonathan David in search of an early goal that will shake the tie.
“It will be difficult because it is the chelseabut we have already seen others (comebacks) in football. You can’t stop us from dreaming of a surprise”, declared the coach of the French champion Jocelyn Gourvennec last Friday.
Los Dogos will also have the pressure of being the last French club in the competition after Real Madrid eliminated Paris SG.
As if the task weren’t difficult, Lille will face the game without their Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches, one of the team’s best, who was injured last Friday against Saint Etienne (0-0).
Of course the situation of chelsea It is all but calm since the British government decided last week, in response to the Russian invasion in Ukraine, to sanction several Russian oligarchs, including the president of the London club, Roman Abramovich, close to Moscow’s power.
Among the restrictions imposed, the limitation of expenses for travel to 24,000 euros, an insignificant amount when talking about the Champions League. Of course, coach Thomas Tuchel joked that he was willing to “drive a minibus” if necessary to take his players to the northern French city.
*With information from AFP and EuropaPress.