Chelsea are fresh from their Club World Cup win, and now will be looking to defend their Champions League title. Their defense begins from the round of 16 clash against Ligue 1 champions LOSC Lille. The Londoner’s Premier League challenge is all but over after falling 16 points behind leaders Manchester City, though having a game in hand. Lille have also lost their Ligue 1 title defense, as they are 24 points off the first place, and are now fighting for Champions League spots. Lille now faces Chelsea in the Champions League round of 16.
Chelsea’s poor run of results in December ended their hopes of winning a first league title since 2017. However, the Blues have done well in the Champions League to keep their defense alive. After a turbulent group-stage campaign with 4 wins, a draw, and a loss, Chelsea finished second behind Juventus. Despite their league struggles, Chelsea are still alive in three competitions this season. Tuchel’s men are in the League Cup final, FA Cup 5th round, and the Champions League round of 16. Chelsea will want to scoop all of them, starting from the Champions League.
Chelsea UEFA Champions league form: L W W W D
Lille have been hugely disappointing in their Ligue 1 title defense this season. The club is reeling in 10th place, 24 points adrift of the top, and 11 off the guaranteed Champions League spots. However, they still have some positives amidst their failed title defense. Jonathan David, Renato Sanches, and Sven Botman have been in brilliant form and attracted offers from Europe’s top clubs in January. Lille’s Champions league campaign has been some solace for them, as they finished top of their group which consisted of RB Salzburg and Sevilla.
LOSC Lille UEFA Champions league form: L D W W W
Chelsea vs Lille: Team News
The Blues’ team news
Chelsea had some left-back crisis after Ben Chilwell underwent surgery on his ruptured cruciate ligament in November last year. His season was over there and Tuchel had only Marcos Alonso at his disposal in the left-back position. Reece James also didn’t participate in Chelsea’s Club World Cup games due to a hamstring injury. However, he should be back for the Crystal Palace game and subsequently the Lille game.
In a huge blow to Chelsea, Mason Mount suffered an ankle injury against Palmeiras and Tuchel has admitted it looks quite serious. Tuchel said “…he (Mount) hurt his ligaments badly. So we have to see. It’s an injury. He came to me and said he didn’t feel good, stiff, and painful. He didn’t know if he could continue so we took the decision.” From his comments, it’s a huge possibility that Mount would be out for long and miss the Lille game.
Chelsea possible starting line-up
Edouard Mendy; Rudiger, Thiago Silva, Malang Sarr; Reece James, Kante, Jorginho, Hudson Odoi; Ziyech, Pulisic; Lukaku
LOSC Lille team news
Lille manager Jocelyn Gourvennec will have almost a fully fit squad for the Chelsea game. However, Jocelyn will be sweating over Renato Sanches’ groin injury. He missed Lille’s last against Montpellier pending his recovery. Lille lost left-back Reinildo Mandava to Atletico in the winter market and Gabriel Gudmundsson should now occupy the position.
Isaac Lihadji is also a doubt after the winger suffered a hamstring injury against Lorient in the league game. Timothy Weah could replace him for Chelsea. Jonathan David has been in scintillating form this season, scoring 16 goals across all competitions. He would definitely lead Lille’s attack against Chelsea. Ivo Grbic’s poor form recently made way for Leo Jardim against Montpellier in the goal. But Grbic should be back for the Chelsea game.
LOSC Lille possible starting line-up
Grbic; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Gudmundsson; Timoth Weah, Amadou Onana, Benjamin André, Bamba; Angel Gomes, Jonathan David
Chelsea 3-1 Lille
Chelsea are clear favorites over the two legs. The match-up at Stamford Bridge should be an easy one for Chelsea, but given their recent struggles, a clean sheet looks unachievable. However, it may seem Chelsea will progress easily, the Lille still has the ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat. An attack led by Jonathan David, and defense led by Sven Botman should be a tough passage to Chelsea to the round of 16.
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