top of page
  • By Yann Tear at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea : Lille - Five big talking points after another Euro cruise for Thomas Tuchel's men


Chelsea have one foot in the quarter-finals of the Champions League after Tuesday night's 2-0 victory over French champions Lille, courtesy of a goal in each half from Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic.


Here Capital Football puts the spotlight on the stand-out issues of the night.


No away goals, no jeopardy


The Blues have now won four out of four ECL games on home turf without conceding a goal, and once again achieved an impressive shut out.


It was a night when they looked particularly comfortable because even the occasional first-half threat of a goal from the visitors did not carry the menace it might have done had the away goals rule not been scrapped this year.


A 2-1 home win in the past always used to trigger a red flag for danger because an off night in the return and a 1-0 defeat would mean elimination.


You got the feeling that the removal of that particular threat dulled the sense of jeopardy and made it an even more relaxed night out at the Bridge for the hosts. Not that their defensive solidity suggested they were ever going to be breached.


What now for Romelu Lukaku?


The £97m target man's woes at Palace at the weekend was well documented. He managed only seven touches over 90 minutes - a record low since stats were first compiled - and he was omitted from the fray altogether last night.


The question is whether he has been held back for Sunday's League Cup final at Wembley. Does Tuchel see him as a man for the big occasion, ready to seize the day and rediscover his form on the biggest stage? The Lille contest did not make it seem likely that he will entrust him with a start against Liverpool.


Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic offered a nimble, fleet-footed approach which maybe suits the Blues better - especially since injuries to Reece James and Ben Chilwell have blocked a source of crosses for the Belgian. When Pulisic was withdrawn late on, it was Timo Werner Tuchel brought on. Lukaku did not get a look-in.


An injury to Hakim Ziyech may yet alter the equation but you would not bet your mortgage on Lukaku featuring from the start.


The fans are mad about Thiago - though Kante was even more immense


The Matthew Harding end swooned at Silva's every touch. The 37-year-old Brazilian looked in imperious form. This is a stage he knows very well and his experience has helped make the defence look impregnable at times.


His duel with the much-praised Canadian striker Jonathan David was highly anticipated, but in the event, the 22-year-old Lille striker was starved of service and unable to make much of an impression after an early attempt he fired over the bar.


Silva was dominant. He is a clean sheet writ large and home supporters have taken to him in a big way.


But if the cult status is his, then arguably the man even more deserving of adoration is N'Golo Kante, whose classic bursts of pace created mayhem in the French team's defence.


It was from one of his typical thrusting runs that Pulisic bagged the all-important second goal. He is getting back to his very best after injury disruptions. The best French player on the pitch? It wasn't a player in the French side.


A League Cup final is a bigger deal than a last-16 ECL tie

The substitutions Tuchel made suggested the Chelsea boss was thinking about Sunday's showpiece final against Liverpool long before the end of Tuesday night's first leg.


The Blues managed to make it look like a routine assignment and it is likely to prove less challenging than the contest with Jurgen Klopp’s men.


Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Timo Werner and Saul Niguez came on in the second half, while Jorginho and Mason Mount had the night off.


Even with a second leg still to come at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on March 16, the German felt comfortable and has the immediate available silverware on his mind.


Chelsea are all about accumulating those trophies and a third final of the season carries the prospect of a third cup in the cabinet with the prospect of even more to come.

Biggest threat to retaining title may come from these shores


With the Blues 2-0 up going into their second leg, Liverpool ahead by the same score against Inter, Man City over the hill and far away against Sporting, and Man United due to face a fading Atletico Madrid, there is a very real prospect of all four English clubs making up half the number of quarter-finalists in this year’s Champions League.


The holders are looking in such fine fettle that they will fancy their chances of going all the way to the final again this year but the biggest obstacle might be a Premier League side. The next round is an open draw, lest we forget, so English clubs will not be kept apart.


Although the possibility of facing Bayern, PSG or Real Madrid would not usher a nailed-on passage to the semi-finals, they would probably prefer to have a go at any of those rather than Liverpool or City.


This is a very strong era for the game in this country and no club remaining in the competition will relish taking one of the Premier League giants.

Comments


Join our mailing list

bottom of page