Chelsea could have been long assured of qualifying for the Champions League knockout rounds, but draws against Ajax (home) and Valencia (away), not to mention that frustrating home loss to Valencia to start things off in September, mean that we need a win tomorrow against Lille.
Combined with Chelsea’s somewhat poor record at Stamford Bridge this season, it’s turned into a season-defining match.
“There are opportunities now for the team, particularly the young boys, to make a mark. It’s good. I like the pressure of this game being knockout. If we’re going to do anything good here, we’re going to have to have lots of these nights.
“They’re crucial for the players because you can be defined as an individual and as a group by success. This means going into the next stage of the Champions League which is a place we want to be in, and another platform for the players to play.”
While Lille are guaranteed to finish bottom of the group, they are not a team to be overlooked. Failure to beat them would most likely result in another Europa League knockout campaign for the rest of the season, and we’ve certainly had our fill of that competition for this decade.
A win guarantees at least second place in the group however, and a spot at the big boys table for the second-half of the season as well.
“It would be a good achievement. There are expectations we that would get through the group, I get that, but it was a tough group. The slightly young feel to our team, the fact we lost the first game, the few difficulties we have had, I think we have dealt with them very well to get into this position. There is still work to be done so we have to go out to win the game.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Chelsea FC
Trouble is, Chelsea’s current form isn’t exactly confidence-inducing, even if we were always going to have a slight hiccup or two given the squad’s youthful nature with several key players (and the management team as well) yet untested at the top level.
A big test then, this one, for all of them, but with the potential reward of another glorious European night at the Bridge.
“Of course it is a big game, it is a knockout game. I think the players are okay physically. It’s not easy with a lot of games. They are fit boys. We do everything we can around them. We have to keep fighting.”
“[A bad spell] was always going to come. The way we are, the nature of the Premier League. It was never going to be plain sailing. This is a test.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Football.London
Can we please get an A* as if this were Latin GCSEs please?