It was another hard fought game for Chelsea tonight, against Lille in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. It sure seems like we’ve had more than a fair few of those recently. But whether that’s more thanks to the opposition stepping up or us simply making it hard for ourselves, we did walk away once again with a solid victory, a couple goals scored, and yet another clean sheet tonight.
“With away goals it would be better but we have another clean sheet and a well deserved one. It was hard work to not allow chances, they are a strong team, we were up and down with good and weaker moments but we never gave big chances away. We were solid, hard team work and a tough game but a deserved win.”
We’ve had plenty of hustle, but we’ve not had much flow — and while there were moments of improvement in that regard, it was still a rather uneven performance from the Blues. Tuchel’s lineup changes and tactical adjustments did make positive impact however.
“We changed a bit of structure to a midfield of three, we started excellent in the second half then got a bit passive after the goal. We were a bit deep and not active in the last line, we suffered a bit but never conceded chances, defended set-pieces very well and kept the belief. We fought back and scored a very good second goal and had a chance to win with a third goal.”
The victory did come at a price however, and not just because now we have to deal with the “Lukaku dropped” narrative. Mateo Kovačić appeared to pick up an injury late in the first half and would be unable to continue in the second, and he was soon joined by Hakim Ziyech who appeared to be favoring his ankle. They both went straight down the tunnel, and now we anxiously await the latest bits of seemingly never-ending injury news.
“I don’t know. I should have subbed Mateo Kovačić at half-time so could have had one more change. I have not spoken to the doctor about Hakim and hope it is not serious. Today is Tuesday, there are a lot of days to recover until Sunday. We don’t like to have that many injuries and more impact from the bench on a tactical matter. I hope they will be ready for Sunday.”
-Thomas Tuchel; source: BT Sport via BBC
Fortunately, Kanté and Havertz and Pulisic stepped up big time today (in addition to the usual suspects in defense), and will need to keep doing so.