EPL

Azpilicueta happy to have 'special' Lampard back at Chelsea

By Sports Desk July 11, 2019

Frank Lampard will set the right example for the Chelsea squad following his return to Stamford Bridge as head coach, according to Cesar Azpilicueta.

Lampard's Chelsea tenure began with a 1-1 draw against Bohemians in the Blues' opening pre-season game in Ireland on Wednesday.

Chelsea's record goalscorer took over as boss on July 4, following an impressive debut season in coaching at the helm of Derby County.

And Azpilicueta has hailed the impact his former team-mate has had on Chelsea's squad, acknowledging that displays under former coach Maurizio Sarri were not always up to scratch.

"It is true that last season, for periods, we didn’t give the fans what they expected," Azpilicueta said. "Our performances were not good enough.

"We turned it around and won the Europa League but you can see that this season all of the fans are very happy we have the gaffer back at the Bridge.

"Now we have to give it back by working hard on the pitch, by winning games. We are very happy to have him with us. I can’t add anything to his career at Chelsea as a player.

"But, over his first week in training, I’ve seen the way he wants to play, the way he wants us to feel the shirt, the way he wants us to train every day, it is something special."

Azpilicueta expanded on his plaudits, adding that Lampard's commitment to Chelsea during his playing career sets the perfect example for the current players to follow.

"He was here for a very long and very successful period, and always set an example: how he wanted to break every record or improve himself in every session," Azpilicueta said.

"We have to be grateful and feel the passion for the shirt. We are very excited and the only way we can carry it on is by winning together, getting the feeling back of being all together as a club.

"We have to take responsibility and know that there are a lot of things [going on] around us, but we have to work hard to get better."

Lampard's first competitive game will be against Manchester United on the opening weekend of the Premier League season, before Chelsea face Champions League winners Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup on August 14.

Related items

  • Real Madrid duo Modric and Bale hobble out of Euro 2020 qualifier Real Madrid duo Modric and Bale hobble out of Euro 2020 qualifier

    Real Madrid looked to be dealt a double blow on Sunday as Luka Modric and Gareth Bale both picked up injuries on international duty.

    Croatia's Modric travelled to Wales hoping to secure their Euro 2020 qualification but was frustrated as Madrid team-mate Bale netted an equaliser in a 1-1 draw in Cardiff.

    Neither side was able to force a winner, yet they each ended the match hindered by issues to their key men.

    Modric was booked for wiping out Harry Wilson a minute from time but injured himself in the process and had to be helped from the pitch by Croatia's medical staff.

    As Modric received treatment, Bale turned to the Wales physios as he appeared to indicate an issue with his calf.

    While Modric was substituted, Bale played on through the eight minutes of stoppage time, clearly limping and remaining on the field merely to make up the numbers.

  • Wales 1-1 Croatia: Work to do for both following feisty stalemate Wales 1-1 Croatia: Work to do for both following feisty stalemate

    Wales saw their hopes of Euro 2020 qualification taken out of their own hands as they could only draw 1-1 at home to Group E leaders Croatia.

    Fourth in the pool heading into a crunch clash in Cardiff following a slow start to the campaign, Ryan Giggs' men suffered another setback on Sunday as they trailed to Nikola Vlasic's early goal.

    Gareth Bale struck shortly before half-time to lift Wales, yet they could not get the crucial second goal and were forced to settle for a point.

    Wales now require a helping hand from opponents Croatia when they face Slovakia, with the World Cup finalists themselves still to secure a place at the finals after failing to win here.

    Croatia took control from the outset and had to wait just nine minutes for the opener, with Josip Brekalo dancing in from the left and Bruno Petkovic teeing up Vlasic to shoot low past Wayne Hennessey via the left-hand post.

    Only a stunning, stooping Hennessey save denied Ivan Perisic a quick second with a 12-yard header, although a stoppage for Dan James to receive treatment for an apparent head injury slowed the visitors' momentum.

    Wales continued to toil until the vital equaliser arrived from a predictable source three minutes into the consequent added period, as Ben Davies picked out Bale to fire beyond Dominik Livakovic.

    The home side improved following the restart but chances were at a premium, with only a shaky Livakovic fumble from James' drive offering the Welsh fans any real excitement in front of goal.

    A combative match took its toll in the closing stages, too, as Luka Modric was substituted with an injury and Bale ended the contest hobbling badly.


    What does it mean? Help required

    The fates of these two sides are now intertwined, as Wales can only qualify if Croatia also do so by stopping Slovakia. Both teams would expect to win their remaining fixtures and advance, but Giggs' men have slipped up too many times already in this group for progression to be considered a given at this stage.

    Davies desire turns contest

    A draw was a relatively disappointing result for Wales, but they might have come away empty-handed had Davies not intervened. For while Bale got the leveller, it did not look like coming until the determined defender charged forward - injuring Mateo Kovacic in the challenge - and slid in his clinical colleague. Davies was effective at both ends throughout.

    Rugged Croatia pay the price

    Wales were unimpressed with some rough challenges from their opponents, as James and Ethan Ampadu were both hit hard - the latter had to be substituted. But the numerous flashpoints also cost Croatia, with centre-backs Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren each picking up bookings that will keep them out of their key meeting with Slovakia.

    What's next?

    Wales go to Azerbaijan and then host Hungary in a key qualifying double-header next month, while Croatia welcome Slovakia before a friendly against Georgia.

  • Estonia 0-3 Germany: Gundogan leads Die Mannschaft after early Can red card Estonia 0-3 Germany: Gundogan leads Die Mannschaft after early Can red card

    Ilkay Gundogan scored a fortuitous brace and set up Timo Werner as Germany beat Estonia 3-0 in Tallinn on Sunday despite Emre Can's early dismissal, taking them a step closer to Euro 2020 qualification.

    Northern Ireland's 3-1 defeat to Netherlands on Thursday meant Germany could put a three-point cushion between themselves and Michael O'Neill's men with a win and they just about did enough to prevail in spite of an awkward start.

    Any chance of Germany repeating their 8-0 demolition of Estonia vanished with Can's early red card, as the Juventus midfielder – who was deployed in defence – paid the price for complacency at the back.

    But fortune smiled on Die Mannschaft after half-time, as Gundogan found the net twice with deflected attempts and Werner completed the scoring to leave Joachim Low's men level on 15 points with Group C leaders Netherlands.

    Can lasted just 14 minutes before his moment of madness, allowing a pass across the edge of the box to roll past him and stretching to reach it, fouling Frank Liivak and earning a straight red.

    The visitors remained the dominant force, however, with Luca Waldschmidt drawing a good save from Sergei Lepmets in the 24th minute.

    Lepmets could only watch and hope just before the break, as Marco Reus' 30-yard free-kick rattled against his crossbar.

    But Germany did break the deadlock early in the second half, with Gundogan's low drive from just outside the box deflecting in off Reus.

    The Manchester City midfielder struck again six minutes later, this time receiving Reus' cut-back inside the area and seeing his strike flick off a defender and beat the helpless Lepmets.

    Substitute Werner's clincher was rather more impressive, as the forward raced on to Gundogan's pass and smashed home after cutting inside to dodge Lepmets.

    What does it mean? Qualification in Germany's hands

    With just two qualifiers remaining, Germany are suddenly looking in particularly good shape in terms of their qualification hopes.

    Northern Ireland have done a fine job of keeping Germany and Netherlands on their toes, but now they will almost certainly have to beat Die Mannschaft in Frankfurt in their final qualifier to reach the finals.

    Gundogan the driving force

    While it was by no means a vintage display from Germany, Gundogan was the key man. He drove forward with intent, used the ball positively, got the first two goals - even if they were somewhat lucky - and set up Werner.

    Emre Can not keep his cool

    Deployed at centre-back again, it is fair to say it was a day to forget for Can. His early red card simply came about because of carelessness and did little to silence those adamant he should under no circumstances be playing in defence for Germany.

    What's next?

    Germany return to action next month with home matches against Belarus and Northern Ireland. Estonia go to Ukraine next time, before also facing Netherlands away from home.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.