What the papers say

Liverpool are hoping to sign Manchester City “outcast” Kalvin Phillips in a £35m deal this summer, the Daily Star says. Jurgen Klopp targeted the 27-year-old midfielder after being priced out of a move for Jude Bellingham.

Elsewhere, the Daily Telegraph reports Romelu Lukaku will be asked whether or not he wants to try to revive his Chelsea career under proposed permanent head coach Mauricio Pochettino. The 29-year-old striker has spent the season on loan at Inter Milan after making it clear that he no longer wanted to play for former head coach Thomas Tuchel.

In more Blues news, the Evening Standard says Frank Lampard will make himself available as a sounding board for Pochettino to help ensure a smooth transition. The former Tottenham manager is due to take over at the end of the season.

And according to The Sun, Eddie Howe will have up to £150million to bolster his Newcastle squad this summer. The Magpies are laying plans to prepare their squad for a Champions League campaign next season and are willing to spend between £100-150million.

Social media round-up

Top four = big spending for Howe this summer. And he has targets ? ? https://t.co/vjUB6mcTgt

— Mirror Football (@MirrorFootball) April 26, 2023

Lampard on Mount: “New deal for him? Not my opinion. It will be the opinion of the club and the opinion of Mason, so that's between them”. ?⭐️ #CFC

“There’s no doubt, he’s top-class player. Trust me, it’s not easy to play with top players around and he’s managed to do that”. pic.twitter.com/oczA2DJdny

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) April 25, 2023

Players to watch

Lionel Messi: 90min says Barcelona are “leaving no stone unturned” in their bid to re-sign the 35-year-old Argentina forward from Paris St-Germain but a deal will not be straightforward.

Andre Onana: Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport reports Chelsea are interested in signing the 27-year-old Cameroon goalkeeper from Inter Milan and could use Kepa Arrizabalaga, 28, as part of the deal.

Frank Lampard urged Chelsea's players to show "personal pride" and finish the season strongly as the club target Mauricio Pochettino to become their new head coach.

Injuries are set to keep Reece James and Mason Mount out of action for the rest of the season, Lampard revealed on Tuesday.

The loss of the England internationals comes as the latest blow in a wretched season for the club that has seen two head coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, lose their jobs.

Interim boss Lampard could also be replaced before the campaign ends, having overseen four defeats in four games since the club legend was asked to lead the team.

With Pochettino a firm contender to take charge, there may be a new man at the helm in the coming days or weeks.

What seems nigh-on certain is that Lampard will lead Chelsea in Wednesday's home game against fellow west London outfit Brentford.

The Bees are remarkably five points ahead of the wealthy Blues ahead of that fixture, and Lampard wants to see battling spirit from his 11th-placed side.

He broke the dismal news of the fresh injury setbacks at the beginning of Tuesday's pre-match press conference, saying: "Reece James is unavailable probably for the season, Mason Mount the same – potential for the last game of the season but probably not – so that's obviously disappointing for us.

"They're big players. Reece has a hamstring injury and Mason has been carrying this pelvic injury for quite a while. He's been trying typically, and medical staff have been trying, but we've got to the stage now where he will have minor surgery and then a four-week recovery."

Asked about the potential arrival of former Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain boss Pochettino, Lampard said: "I'm not going to get involved in any future manager talk, because it's all speculation."

 

Lampard is unsure whether his short-term position will soon be affected by the club's efforts to appoint a coach, or whether he will continue to lead the team until the end of the season.

"I wouldn't expect anything in football, but I think it's very clear we've come into this club when it's in big difficulties," Lampard said.

He vowed he and his coaching staff would continue to try to draw the best from the expensively assembled Chelsea squad and called on the players to raise their games.

Two Champions League losses to Real Madrid and Premier League defeats to Wolves and Brighton have made it a disappointing start for Lampard.

"I have a big link to this club and pride, and so should the players," Lampard said, when asked whether Chelsea's season was effectively over.

"If you want to take it down your route, it's over, but on my route it's absolutely not over.

"I don't have a mentality that there's nothing to play for. I was fortunate to be a part of teams that were challenging normally for stuff towards the end of the season, but that's not a given. It's important that if you have a long career you won't compete absolutely every season, it's not a given.

"It comes down to your personal pride, responsibility, wearing the shirt. We've got seven games, four against the top four, three away from home.

"The run-in's really tough, there's no doubt about that. There's always something on those games. I understand that and the players have to understand that."

Frank Lampard has vowed to not "let anyone off the hook" after Chelsea slipped out of the Champions League with another 2-0 loss to Real Madrid.

The Blues suffered their fourth successive defeat in as many games as a Rodrygo double condemned them to a 4-0 aggregate quarter-final defeat.

Chelsea's latest loss means Lampard has overseen the club's worst run across all competitions for close to three decades since his return as interim boss.

Though much-improved from Santiago Bernabeu last week, the former midfielder still needs to see standards rise, and says he will not let any player off lightly.

"You're playing for Chelsea," he told BT Sport. "Every game you play, you have to give everything. I won't let anyone off the hook and we have to show. That standard cannot drop.

"We played really well for 60 minutes. We created chances, but you have to take them. You don't want to praise the performance too much when you lose at this level.

"But we were much improved. This club has been further in this competition and the players can take this feeling forward with them for the future."

Conor Gallagher echoed his manager's words too, acknowledging Chelsea failed to seize their opportunities as their goal drought continues to blight them.

Having found the back of the net just once since the start of April, the England midfielder stressed they must take the positives into the final weeks of the Premier League season.

"Football is all about taking your chances, which we didn't do today," he added. "Of course, we are going to be gutted. We haven't got that [cutting edge] at the minute.

"But that was definitely a big improvement on recent performances. We'll take it one game at a time. Hopefully we can build on the performance because I feel it was positive in a way."

The last time Chelsea binned off Frank Lampard, they won the Champions League four months later.

They brought him back, have immediately lost four games on the trot and won't be kings of Europe this year. Nor will they be contesting this competition next year.

Sometimes good things come to an end, but Chelsea and Lampard have past glories they can rely on and seem happy enough together again, so don't cry for them.

All those signings in January, and then this? All the brilliant leadership from Todd Boehly, and then this?

Real Madrid have more past glories than any club in the history of this competition, landing their 14th title last May, and they cleared the Chelsea hurdle after Carlo Ancelotti somehow outwitted Lampard.

Honestly, who saw that coming?

This was football as some sort of abstract performance art from the men in blue and their boss.

Stealth tactics, confuse the hell out of them. Play N'Golo Kante as a roving forward, why not? Have Conor Gallagher as the man nodding down crosses for the little Frenchman, why not? Madrid won't know what's hit 'em!

On seeing Chelsea's starting line-up, featuring world-beating holding midfielder Kante as the frontline attack dog, snooker star and Blues fan Neil Robertson tweeted: "I'm a little confused with this lineup. Hopefully a master plan!"

Sure Neil, let's call this a master plan. Just like playing a frame of snooker with the butt end of a cue would be considered a sound tactic, this was a master plan all right.

Eleven minutes in, this supreme strategy should have brought Chelsea a goal when Reece James' cross broke to an unmarked Kante.

From 12 yards the French World Cup winner surely would hit the opening goal and give Chelsea the dream start they were after.

Reader, he did not. A wild swing of the left boot sent the ball wide, but my word, did Madrid already look confused.

After playing 30 games in the Champions League without ever scoring, it was surely a matter of time before Kante broke that duck in this game. He was born to be the match winner.

James took a hapless touch on another Chelsea attack and Madrid's Vinicius Junior shepherded the ball out of play for a goal kick, being told to 'f*** off' by at least one Chelsea supporter for his efforts.

Madrid were surely on the ropes now with such vitriol adding to their woes.

Sure, Rodrygo whacked a shot against the outside of the Chelsea right post. But the home side were flying.

Kante had four touches in the first 20 minutes, the fewest of any player on the pitch. Madrid were being lulled into a false sense of security, their 2-0 first-leg lead suddenly so vulnerable.

Sure, Luka Modric’s sharp shot from a tight angle was then bundled behind by Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chelsea full-back James got in on the right and looked to play a quick ball to the striker attacking the near post, except that player unfortunately did not exist.

In the 38th minute, Kante was the man dashing down the right, and the makeshift winger’s cross would have been ideal if Chelsea had a striker in their ranks. As it was, it ran through the penalty area and out again before Madrid cleared their lines.

Kante then won a corner, and Kai Havertz flicked it on, Conor Gallagher headed it up, and nobody nodded it in.

In first-half stoppage time, Chelsea had the best chance of the half, when James' delicious low cross from the right inevitably missed the players in the middle and ran through to left-back Marc Cucurella.

The £55million defender was not necessarily acquired for his finishing, having only netted once for Brighton and Hove Albion, and he duly kept up his record of never having netted for Chelsea as Thibaut Courtois kept out his strike.

By half-time, Kante had pulled level with the goalkeepers on 17 touches each. Progress.

The chances kept coming after the break and Kante had another glorious opportunity when Gallagher nodded the ball down. Kante got to the ball and smacked his shot straight at defender Eder Militao.

Havertz trickled a low shot straight at Courtois, and Madrid were surely by now boggled by this master class in mind games. You could knock them down with a feather by this point.

Yet after almost an hour of banter-ball, Madrid scored when a short pass from Vinicius teed up Rodrygo to smash in from close range.

But wait! In the 67th minute, Lampard introduced three players with goals in their veins: Raheem Sterling, Mykhailo Mudryk and Joao Felix.

Hold them back until the game's lost, Frank, then unleash them, baby!

The Spanish giants withdrew Benzema after 70 minutes, sparing him from such advanced confusion tactics.

All Chelsea needed now was four goals.

Madrid scored next, Federico Valverde dancing past Thiago Silva and squaring for Rodrygo to net again. Two-nil on the night, four-nil on aggregate.

Just five goals needed now.

Frank, I don't think this is going quite to plan.

Real Madrid kept their Champions League title defence alive with a 2-0 win over Chelsea on Tuesday that secured a 4-0 aggregate success in the quarter-finals.

Rodrygo's second-half double helped Los Blancos see off any chance of a Blues comeback at Stamford Bridge to book their semi-final spot.

Frank Lampard's hosts offered an energetic improvement on their performance in the reverse fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu last week.

But their inability to convert chances ultimately left the door open for Carlo Ancelotti's side to make it a comfortable passage to the last four in the end.

Chelsea started with dogged intent, going close when N'Golo Kante sliced a volley wide 11 minutes in.

Madrid did not rest on their own laurels, however, with Rodrygo striking the post almost midway through the first half after he was played smartly into the box.

Luka Modric tested Kepa Arrizabalaga with a powerful shot just past the half-hour mark, while Thibaut Courtois denied Marc Cucurella from six yards after the Blues man found himself in space.

But their best chance arguably fell to Kante just after the restart, his strike off Conor Gallagher's header was blocked at close-range.

That miss allowed Madrid to make the breakthrough instead, with Rodrygo smashing home Vinicius Junior's square return ball in the 58th minute.

His effort took the sting out of the contest, and when the Brazilian added a second in the 80th minute from Federico Valverde's cut-back, it allowed the visitors an easy ride to the finish line.

Frank Lampard's temporary reign at Chelsea is a "risky gamble" but could well pay off for the beleaguered club, believes Rafael Benitez.

Former Blues head coach Lampard returned to his former post on a short-term basis on April 6 following Graham Potter's dismissal.

Yet with three losses from his first three games in charge, it has been far from a glowing reunion for the club's record goalscorer.

Benitez, who led Chelsea as interim boss himself for the bulk of the 2012-13 season, feels there is still time for Lampard to effect a turnaround.

"It was a surprise for everyone [re-appointing Lampard], but he has been there for many years and knows the players," Benitez told the Telegraph.

"It's a risky gamble that we will only be able to assess, as almost always, at the end. He has a great squad at his disposal, he knows the Premier League.

"He knows the players, the staff and the fans will give him more leeway than another manager because he was a great player there. He can give them more peace of mind in the short term."

Another of Benitez's former clubs, Real Madrid, stood in Chelsea's way on Tuesday, with the Blues looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit in their Champions League quarter-final.

Lampard was Benitez's captain for the 2013 Europa League final victory over Benfica, the lone honour of a season that saw the Spanish coach experience a thorny relationship with the club's fanbase.

The former Liverpool boss acknowledges his time on Merseyside likely coloured a negative impression of him among Chelsea fans, but he retains fond memories from his spell at Stamford Bridge, steering Chelsea to third place in the Premier League and semi-finals of the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

"It's not lost on anyone that [Roman] Abramovich's Chelsea were the strongest team in the Premier League when I arrived at Liverpool," Benitez said. "We competed with them and beat them in the Champions League several times, those games had a lot of tension, and it's not easy for a fan to forget the emotional part.

"Fortunately, we [at Chelsea] more than fulfilled our objectives of qualifying directly for the Champions League and, on top of that we also won the Europa League. I think everyone now sees it as a success."

If Chelsea were looking for encouragement ahead of the Madrid second leg, it was provided by recent history.

The Blues have progressed from five of their last seven Champions League ties when losing the first leg away from home, doing so in each of the last two when losing by two clear goals: against Napoli in 2011-12 and Paris Saint-Germain in 2013-14.

Frank Lampard has refuted suggestions Chelsea are "broken" as they prepare for their Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.

The Blues welcome the defending European champions to Stamford Bridge on Tuesday after suffering a 2-0 loss in the away fixture last week.

Chelsea head into that game on the back of another defeat, losing at home to Brighton and Hove Albion to extend their winless Premier League run to five matches.

Lampard's side are 11th in the table – well below expectations, he acknowledged – but he does not believe they are beyond repair.

"We are not where we want to be, [but] I think the word 'broken' is a bit much," he said. "The league position is reality, and we are 2-0 down in this game. We have to work against that.

"I'm big on personal responsibility as a player and as a group. I'm not blaming anyone else. We have to address things now and going forward. It is a big part of the game.

"You do a lot of work and delve into data, statistics and output of games. This is not a question of player commitment; my job is to find ways we can get better to compete at this level."

Lampard was a player when Chelsea defied the odds with a remarkable run to Champions League glory under Roberto Di Matteo, another interim boss, in 2012.

But the idea of an upset against Madrid ranking alongside that triumph was swatted away by Lampard.

"I don't think anything that happens tomorrow will be better than when we won the Champions League," he said. "We had many difficult moments on that run.

"Considering the moment we are in and the team we are facing here, of course it would be special. I have no doubt it'll be positive [to play at home].

"I've been here too many times on a Champions League night at Stamford Bridge not to understand that the atmosphere is going to be great. It is down to us to engage the crowd. They can help us."

Chelsea caretaker manager Frank Lampard believes the club must focus on their own project, and ignore outside opinion.

The Blues have struggled this season despite investing an eye-watering amount of money on players in the last two transfer windows, sitting in 11th place in the Premier League after 30 games.

Chelsea face Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, who are four places above them, and the Seagulls have continued to thrive under boss Roberto De Zerbi ever since the London club took their previous head coach, Graham Potter, from them in September.

"I think Brighton is a fantastic model. You can track their last five, six, seven years and see good progression... and that's their path," Lampard said at a press conference on Friday.

"Chelsea's path is a different one, a club that's been hugely successful for a long period of time. Maybe a club where there is different transition of ownership, players that have left, bringing in players for the future.

"You can look around and see models everywhere, the work Arsenal have done and everyone was judging them, the owner and manager, now it's a fantastic model. 

"You have to understand when you're in a project, there are moments you have to dig in... I don't think it's important for us to focus on opinion."

Lampard confirmed he will be without Kalidou Koulibaly for the next few games after the defender suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday's 2-0 first-leg defeat to Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the Champions League quarter-finals.

"He won't be available for either game [Brighton or the second leg v Madrid]. It's a hamstring injury, so it'll be a matter of weeks rather than days," he said.

Reports have suggested the club has triggered a clause in the contract of midfielder Enzo Fernandez to add another year to his already lengthy eight-year deal, in order to help spread their costs out further.

The World Cup winner joined Chelsea for a club record fee of £106.8m (€121m) in January, and Lampard has been impressed. 

"I can't confirm [the contract story] because I don't know, actually, I've got enough on my plate without dissecting everyone's contracts at the club," he said. "The only thing I'll say is that, working with Enzo, he's been a standout character and player for me in this last week in terms of attitude and quality.

"Even though he's only been here a short time I think he's a fantastic player for this club going forward, and exactly the kind of profile we're talking about [to take Chelsea forward]."

Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with Real Madrid's commanding 2-0 win against Chelsea but stressed they must be ready to "fight and sacrifice" in the second leg at Stamford Bridge.

Madrid look set to advance to the Champions League semi-finals for the third consecutive season after they breezed past Frank Lampard's out-of-form side at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio either side of a red card for Ben Chilwell rounded out a dominant performance from the reigning champions, who will travel to London for the return match next week.

The defeat leaves Chelsea without a goal in four games in all competitions, but Ancelotti remained steadfast that Los Blancos would need to work hard to finish the job in the second leg.

"I know football really well and my players understand that we have another 90 minutes to play, and it will be difficult, and we have to be ready," he told BT Sport.

"We won 2-0, we took advantage of this game, but it's not done yet. Chelsea is a good team with good players, and we have to fight and sacrifice at Stamford Bridge. This is absolutely normal – it's a quarter-final of the Champions League.

"We are satisfied with the game, it was a good game, and now we focus on the next."

Luka Modric's close miss and a squandered late chance from Benzema kept the score down after Chelsea were reduced to 10 men, but the Madrid boss did not feel his side had failed in not finding another goal before the final whistle.

He said: "When we were against 10 men, they put a low block, and it was not easy to find solutions.

"I think we spent a lot of energy in the game trying to press high, and so at the end, we were not so fresh to try to find another goal, but the result and the performance was good."

Wednesday's encounter saw Ancelotti go head-to-head with Lampard in the dugout, with the Madrid boss having coached his opposite number while himself Chelsea manager between 2009 and 2011.

"I have a good memory of him – a fantastic player," Ancelotti said when asked about Lampard. "I hope he will be a fantastic manager but not necessarily next Tuesday."

Safe to say Frank Lampard was the only Champions League coach required to give an earnest answer on the eve of this week's matches about the role a late-night US TV host might have had in his appointment.

But then Lampard was also the only Champions League coach expecting to watch along from home with James Corden and the rest as recently as a week ago.

If Thomas Tuchel's appointment at Bayern Munich between the last 16 and the quarter-finals came out of left field, he at least had history in this competition, replacing Lampard as Chelsea boss in 2020-21 and leading them to European glory.

Lampard won the Champions League as a player, of course, in another example of a successful mid-season Chelsea coaching change.

The parallels with that other season of struggle in 2011-12 have not been lost on Lampard. "He mentioned he was in his worst moment at Chelsea," said Enzo Fernandez. "It is a great example for us."

But that likely makes Lampard the only coach to look at Roberto Di Matteo's improbable title run 11 years ago as a blueprint for success moving forward.

In fact, Di Matteo led Chelsea to a top-six Premier League finish and an FA Cup triumph before winning the Champions League. Lampard's side are 11th and out of the domestic cups.

Hopes of a repeat of that greatest win of all are all but gone, too, after Real Madrid's 2-0 victory in the first leg of their last-eight tie.

Lampard's will surely be the only shock Chelsea comeback this season.

The Blues, still under Tuchel, did very nearly overturn a two-goal deficit against Madrid at this stage last season, leading 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu before late goals from Rodrygo and Karim Benzema took the eventual champions through.

That was the theme of Madrid's campaign, rarely playing well but having enough in the big moments. The concern for Chelsea is their hosts were again a little below par on Wednesday and this time did not need any of those big moments, deservedly defeating their toothless side.

Madrid scraped past Liverpool and Chelsea last season and are on course to knock out both again this year – with the minimum of fuss. Again getting the better of Manchester City in the next stage may well prove tougher.

Lampard appeared to look back to those famous nights under Di Matteo as he turned to experience for this first leg, making only two changes from the last-16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund but increasing the average age of the XI by two years in introducing Thiago Silva and N'Golo Kante.

"We always want to develop players, we want young players, all these things," he explained to BT Sport. "But at a game of this high level, players like Thiago, N'Golo in the team are a huge lift for us."

That know-how still paled next to Madrid's, however. There were 821 Champions League appearances in the home XI – the second-most in competition history behind another Madrid line-up in the 2018 final.

It was fitting then that Benzema should net the opener in his 149th Champions League game, fifth on the all-time list and in the right place at the right time when Kepa Arrizabalaga could only parry an awkward effort from Vinicius Junior.

Lampard might well have taken a 1-0 defeat at that point. He certainly would have when half-time was reached with Madrid having aimed eight shots on target and then again when Ben Chilwell was sent off with over half an hour remaining.

The game briefly became reminiscent of the 2012 semi-final in Barcelona, where John Terry saw red but Chelsea somehow recovered a 2-2 draw through a combination of brave defending and clinical counter-attacking.

Yet Marco Asensio's second with 74 minutes played, steered through Wesley Fofana's legs, broke their resolve and might well have taken the tie away from Lampard.

This Chelsea team are anything but clinical. They have 41 goals in 41 games this season, going four without scoring – including in two matches under Lampard – for the first time since 1993. The Blues have only netted more than once, as they now must, in 14 of those games.

Failure to buck that trend against Champions League specialists Madrid will mean the end of Chelsea's season.

At that point, as Madrid move on and Lampard attempts to rescue a top-10 position in the Premier League, focus turns to where Todd Boehly goes next, perhaps to who Jimmy Kimmel fancies for the Stamford Bridge hotseat.

It has been another season to remember at Chelsea – for all the wrong reasons.

Real Madrid put one foot into the final four of the Champions League after a 2-0 win over 10-man Chelsea in the first leg of their quarter-final.

Karim Benzema's first-half tap-in put the holders in front at Santiago Bernabeu before Marco Asensio doubled their advantage with just over a quarter-hour to go.

A straight red card for Ben Chilwell after he tugged down Rodrygo in-between compounded a tough trip to Spain for Frank Lampard's men.

Former Blues boss Carlo Ancelotti and his Los Blancos side will wish they had more to show, but will nevertheless head to Stamford Bridge with a healthy advantage for next week's return leg.

Thibaut Courtois denied Joao Felix on the break and Benzema forced a close-range stop from Kepa at the other end inside the first 15 minutes.

Benzema was in the place after 21 minutes, though, capitalising when Kepa parried Vinicius Junior's shot into his path.

Madrid had chances to extend the lead before the break with David Alaba's header almost squirming in five minutes before half-time.

Chelsea's hopes of a comeback after the break felt slim even before Kalidou Koulibaly was forced to hobble off, and Chilwell's dismissal only worsened matters.

Asensio then was on-point to cap another fine European performance from Madrid when he swept home a cut-back delivery in the 74th minute.

Benzema could and perhaps should have made it three in the final stages of injury time, only to push his looping header over the crossbar from nine yards out.

But the hosts are now well on course to extend their superb continental record, though Ancelotti will know more than most the battle is not over yet for his side.

Frank Lampard was able to recall Thiago Silva as the veteran defender returned from injury for Chelsea's Champions League quarter-final first leg at Real Madrid.

Chelsea are facing Madrid at this stage of the competition for the second consecutive season, having been agonisingly eliminated in extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu last year.

The Blues are at least boosted by the presence of Silva in the line-up for this latest trip to Madrid, however.

The 38-year-old has been out with a knee ligament injury since late February, missing the European win against Borussia Dortmund and a host of domestic matches that led to Graham Potter's dismissal.

Silva is back working under former boss Lampard, who also brought back N'Golo Kante after he was rested at Wolves on Saturday.

Kante's inclusion saw a change of shape as 2021 final hero Kai Havertz missed out as a difficult season continues, while Ben Chilwell was preferred to Marc Cucurella.

Madrid, like Chelsea, had shuffled their pack at the weekend with little left to play for in the league. They similarly lost to Villarreal.

But Carlo Ancelotti restored his XI from the prior 4-0 win at Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.

Karim Benzema, selected up front, has scored his past 10 Champions League goals in knockout games against English sides, with four of those coming against Chelsea last season.

He netted a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge before his extra-time goal took Madrid through.

Frank Lampard is excited for the "amazing challenge" he faces when Chelsea tackle Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Chelsea legend Lampard guides his team into Wednesday's first leg at Santiago Bernabeu less than a week after returning to Stamford Bridge as interim boss until the end of the season.

The former midfielder may well feel he has unfinished business with the Blues in European competition, having been sacked midway through the 2020-21 season – a campaign that saw the club go on to win the Champions League under successor Thomas Tuchel.

While taking on Madrid appears a daunting task for a coach who was out of the game just a week ago, Lampard is ready to lap up the opportunity.

"This is amazing. I've been fortunate to manage in the Champions League, and to be here as a manager, when a week ago I didn't know I'd be here, is a huge honour," he said at a press conference.

"It's an amazing challenge for me personally and for the club.

"I think we have to understand the strength of the Real Madrid team; we have to be disciplined with our game off the ball, understand the threats, the ways they like to score and how they control the game.

"We also have to show our own strengths in our game. We have to have belief and follow through with what the idea is under pressure."

Chelsea have struggled for consistency domestically this season, languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League table, and Lampard was asked how and why his squad look to have performed better on the European stage.

"I understand the question because I've viewed it from the outside. The Premier League is also one of the greatest challenges in world football," he replied.

"I think in the Champions League it sometimes offer you some escapism, a different speed of game, they can all contribute to it.

"At this stage, you're playing team of the level of Real Madrid. The comparisons are pretty worthless."

Lampard will have Thiago Silva, Mason Mount and N'Golo Kante available for the trip to the Spanish capital, and he feels they, along with the rest of the squad, can respond to their critics.

"They're all fit. The three players are good and they're here," he said.

"It's normal in a season like this that character gets questioned. The only thing the players can do is prove it on the pitch.

"There's a lot we do behind the scenes, and my job is to convey to them the need to train at a level and to have a mentality at a level, and then they have to show it.

"I'm not questioning there is a lot of character, because I've seen the dressing room. Sometimes players can have a lack of confidence."

Champions League holders Real Madrid resume their European campaign on Wednesday as they once again go up against English opposition in Chelsea.

Now with Frank Lampard in charge again, Chelsea realistically need to win the Champions League just to qualify for it next season, with the Blues languishing 11th in the Premier League.

But after brushing Liverpool aside in ruthless fashion in the last round, Madrid will be massive favourites in the eyes of most people.

Wednesday's other Champions League duel is almost as intriguing. Serie A rivals Milan and Napoli will tussle in San Siro, with any of the four teams in that side of the draw likely fancying their chances of reaching the final.

Ahead of two potentially engrossing matches, Stats Perform picks out the best Opta pre-game facts.

Real Madrid v Chelsea: Benzema out to continue dominance of Premier League opposition

This season has been perceived as an underwhelming one for Karim Benzema in some respects, with injuries disrupting him – particularly ahead of the World Cup.

But since Qatar 2022, the only player across the top five leagues to register more goal involvements in all competitions than Benzema (24) is Manchester United's Marcus Rashford (25), and the Frenchman has been especially lethal in recent weeks.

He scored hat-tricks in each of his first two games this month and was sensational in Madrid's 6-2 aggregate defeat of Liverpool in the previous round, scoring three times over the two legs.

 

That haul means each of his last 10 goals in the Champions League have been against English clubs (in order: x4 Chelsea, x3 Manchester City, x3 Liverpool), which is already the longest such streak against clubs from a single nation by one player.

Benzema's form and Chelsea's rather unimpressive current state would have most considering Los Blancos firm favourites on Wednesday, and the Blues would do well to stop their hosts from scoring given they have netted in each of their previous 30 Champions League knockout games at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Chelsea and interim manager Lampard will be grasping to every hint of optimism they can find.

Their record against Madrid might be one such example, as they have the lowest percentage of losses (14 per cent) of any team to have played them at least five times in European competition.

The Blues are also unbeaten against the Champions League reigning champions since 2004-05 (six games), which is a record.

Milan v Napoli: Uncharted territory for the Partenopei

This promises to be a memorable season for Napoli, who are within touching distance of a first Scudetto since 1990.

But their Champions League journey could yet elevate this campaign to hitherto unseen levels for Luciano Spalletti's side.

After all, this will be their first Champions League quarter-final. Considering they were drawn into the side of the bracket that looks wide open, the outlook is promising.

 

Admittedly, Napoli were remarkably beaten 4-0 at home to Milan at the start of this month, though the Serie A leaders should be a different beast with Victor Osimhen back in the team.

The Nigeria international's brilliance in attack has contributed to Napoli being the top scorers in this season's Champions League with 25 goals, while only Bayern Munich have won more matches (eight to seven).

Furthermore, Napoli's average of 3.1 goals per game is the fifth-best in a single campaign after Bayern in 2019-20 (3.9), PSG in 2017-18 (3.4), Real Madrid in 2013-14 (3.2) and Liverpool in 2017-18 (3.2).

 

Milan will hope they have the defensive nous to counteract that. And, to be fair, they are one clean sheet away from five successive Champions League shutouts for the first time since 2004-05.

Some might also point to Milan's greater experience in such ties, though this will actually be just their first quarter-final since 2011-12, and they last reached the semis in 2006-07 en route to winning the competition.

For the Rossoneri, even when you take into consideration that freak 4-0 away win on April 2, a positive result on Wednesday is surely a must – Napoli will be aiming to make it four successive wins over Milan at San Siro.

Frank Lampard wants Chelsea to banish the lethargic moments that are costing them after seeing Wolves grit their teeth for a 1-0 win over the Blues at Molineux.

It took a stunning 31st-minute goal from Matheus Nunes to get the better of Chelsea in what was caretaker boss Lampard's first game of his second spell at the helm.

Lampard featured in the most successful team in Chelsea's history, with the Englishman ending his career as the club's record scorer, which was no mean feat for a midfielder.

He was a tireless presence in the Chelsea team, and he wants to see the same energy and concentration from the current breed of players, believing it has been lacking at times.

"We know we're not in the position we want to be and there is always a reason for it," Lampard said. "I was aware of that, and I did not expect to solve everything in one day.

"If you're analysing it, in a Premier League game you have to have more aggression in your game, more speed, more competitive duels that go your way, rather than the opposition.

"That is baseline stuff against a team fighting for their Premier League lives. It will always dictate the result of the game, regardless of the talent.

"There was a little bit of that today and the players need to be aware of that, because without that you can't win games and you can't be the team that Chelsea has been at different times, and we want to get back to."

He added: "I am here to help with that, and this is not stinging criticism, but what are the reasons we can be like that at times?

"I know there is a lot of talent there in the squad, I have seen that in the last couple of days, and I look forward to working more with it."

Chelsea's lack of a specialist striker once more cost them as they lacked a focal point for their attacking, with Kai Havertz again the nominal centre forward.

Havertz is arguably better deployed in a midfield role and gave Wolves few causes for concern.

Real Madrid will have hardly been petrified by what they saw either, ahead of their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Lampard's men on Wednesday.

Lampard rested N'Golo Kante, whose return from a hamstring injury lay-off is being carefully managed, but the Frenchman should line up at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There was a pre-match blow on Saturday when Mason Mount was ruled out by what Lampard confirmed was continuing pelvic trouble.

Lampard, having been sacked in January by Everton, relished his return to touchline duty with Chelsea, if not the result.

"I am very happy to be back," he said. "But I'm disappointed I could not give the fans a win in the first game back.

"But we go again and have a huge game waiting for us on Wednesday in the Champions League, and I am very excited about that."

Wolves, meanwhile, could face punishment from the Football Association after home fans were heard chanting "Chelsea rent boys" during the game.

The FA said in January it would consider the homophobic chant a breach of its rules that could lead to disciplinary action, while the Crown Prosecution Service has classed it as a hate crime.

Chelsea said in a statement on Saturday: "Chelsea Football Club finds all forms of discriminatory behaviour totally unacceptable.

"It condemns the homophobic chanting by some home fans at Molineux this afternoon. Chelsea will continue to work closely with Chelsea Pride and the broader football community to eradicate these vile chants from our game."

In a supportive message, the Premier League said the chant "has no place in football or society".

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