Lampard: Lille clash can be defining occasion for Chelsea youngsters

By Sports Desk December 09, 2019

Frank Lampard believes Tuesday's Champions League clash with Lille will be a defining moment for Chelsea's youngsters.

Chelsea can book a place in the last 16 of the competition with victory at Stamford Bridge, while a draw will be enough if Valencia lose to Ajax in the other Group H fixture.

The Blues' only two European wins this term have come on their travels, but Lampard hopes the make-or-break nature of the Lille match can bring the best out of his players.

Asked if games like Tuesday's can shape the younger members of his squad, Lampard told reporters: "Yeah, they are crucial for the players. I was fortunate to have big moments like this for the club.

"I like that this is a knockout, we are going to be at our best. It is a big game, almost like a knockout game.

"We have wanted more in our home games. When you score early in the game it changes the face of the game. When you play well but don't score you add the pressure yourselves."

Chelsea lost 3-1 to lowly Everton in the Premier League on Saturday and have won just one of their past five matches in all competitions.

However, Lampard is not concerned by his side's form and is glad to have a chance to make an instant response against Lille.

"It was always going to come," he said at Monday's pre-match news conference. "The way we are, the nature of the Premier League. It was never going to be plain sailing. This is a test.

"It's a tight turnaround, but that is the nature of the season. There is work you can do and working out there. I am pleased we're playing."

Chelsea have been boosted by the return of Antonio Rudiger to their squad for Tuesday's match, though Fikayo Tomori and Olivier Giroud will not be involved.

Rudiger has featured only once this term - in the 5-2 league win over Wolves on September 14 - and Lampard acknowledged his side have missed the German centre-back.

"He is in the squad. It is good to have him back," Lampard added. "We have given him a lot of work. He has come through that and he looks fit and ready to go.

"I know he is hungry. He is a good defender, you miss those individuals. And then see what he can bring for us."

 

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    The forward made it 13 goals in as many league games this season as he struck in each half at Stade Pierre-Mauroy for the champions.

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    "He has an incredible ability to accelerate and dribble. He was exceptional at times," Tuchel said on Sunday.

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    "He's a boy who is capable of simple things and then exceptional things in the next minute. I'm happy for him as this will give him a lot of confidence."

    Tuchel was happy with the way PSG largely nullified the threat of a Lille side whose previous home defeat in the top flight was back in March last year.

    "We had a lot of the ball in the first period and a bit less in the second, when our counter-attacks weren't all successful. We lost easy balls sometimes," Tuchel said.

    "It was still a good game overall that we managed to control. It wasn't that obvious that we faced a very strong opposing team, unbeaten at home, with a very strong coach and a really good atmosphere."

    Thiago Silva was replaced at half-time, but Tuchel stressed the change was a precaution as the centre-back had felt some discomfort.

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    Neymar scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain claimed a hard-earned 2-0 victory over Lille to extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 10 points.

    Having opened the scoring with a sublime strike in the 28th minute of Sunday's encounter at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Neymar doubled his tally with a penalty early in the second half.

    After netting his second goal, Neymar appeared to pay tribute to Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, who was reported to have died in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

    Lille felt harshly treated by the VAR for PSG's second, though they were fortunate Mauro Icardi and Kylian Mbappe squandered chances to further the visitors' lead as a 14-match unbeaten home league run came to an end.

    Luiz Araujo's long-range effort forced Keylor Navas into a save nine minutes in as Lille took the game straight to the league leaders.

    But a moment of sheer brilliance from Neymar gave PSG the lead, the Brazil star combining with Marco Verratti before curling an exquisite finish into the top-right corner.

    Mbappe would have made it 2-0 if not for Gabriel's block, but Lille might have been level had Presnel Kimpembe not got a toe to Victor Osimhen's strike.

    With substitute Nianzou Kouassi having denied Osimhen a tap-in, Mike Maignan made a brave stop to keep out Mbappe at the other end moments later, yet to Lille's chagrin, PSG were awarded a penalty for a handball by Reinildo.

    Lille's frustration was compounded by the VAR not deeming there to have been a foul by Idrissa Gueye in the build-up, with Neymar's penalty just squeezing beyond Maignan.

    Icardi should have done better with a near-post header and Mbappe failed to beat Maignan as PSG looked to add to their lead, but the visitors ultimately settled for a two-goal cushion, while Loic Remy saw a stoppage-time consolation disallowed for offside.
     

    What does it mean? PSG put last season's thrashing well behind them

    PSG slumped to a shock 5-1 defeat in the corresponding fixture last term, but despite Lille's positive approach, Thomas Tuchel's side just had too much this time around. They are now 10 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 after second-placed Marseille drew at home to Angers.

    Neymar lights up the stage with stunning opener

    PSG's number 10 missed the chance to set a new club record of goals in consecutive games when he failed to net in the Coupe de la Ligue triumph over Reims last time out, but he rediscovered his scoring form in sensational style here, brilliantly controlling Angel Di Maria's pass before exchanging passes with Verratti and expertly picking out the top corner.

    Icardi kept unusually quiet

    The form of Inter loanee Icardi has left Edinson Cavani looking for a move away from PSG, but the striker was not at his best on Sunday. Indeed, he only had four touches in Lille's box throughout the 72 minutes he spent on the pitch.

    What's next?

    Both sides are in Coupe de France action next on Wednesday. PSG visit Pau while Lille face Epinal.

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