This season was always going to be a difficult one for Chelsea and rookie boss Frank Lampard due to the club’s transfer ban. The Blues knew they could not strengthen their squad ahead of their Premier League and Champions League campaigns. The Blues have made a mixed start to their league campaign. However, the team from south west London will be reasonably pleased with Thursday’s draw for the Champions League group stage.
Not terrible opponents
Lampard’s side were drawn alongside last season’s semi-finalists Ajax, Lille and Valencia in Group H. They will fancy their chances of progressing comfortably. With no offence to any of the teams drawn against in Group H, none of them are frightening opponents if Chelsea plays to their full capacity.
Ajax may have made the last four of the competition last season, but they have lost two of their key players this summer, as Matthijs de Ligt joined Juventus and midfielder Frenkie de Jong headed to Barcelona. The Dutch giants still have quality players, but any team would miss players of the quality of De Jong and De Ligt.
Lille were one of the surprise-packages in a PSG-dominated Ligue One last season. However, just like Ajax, they have lost a key player in forward Nicolas Pepe, who joined Arsenal in a deal reported to be worth £72million.
The French club has made some shrewd investments this summer, including signing highly-rated forward Timothy Weah and Portuguese youngster Renato Sanches. The new players will take time to settle and they have made a mixed start to their Ligue One campaign.
Valencia are a very good team under Marcelino. However, Los Ches have made a poor start to their La Liga campaign and can be inconsistent.
Blues need to up their level
There may not be one of the elite teams of European football in the Group H (although it is questionable if Ajax count as an elite club), but Chelsea still needs to up their level from some of their displays in the Premier League this season.
The likes of attacking midfielder Mason Mount and striker Tammy Abraham have made promising starts to the campaign. However, the Champions League is a big test and some teams will be better than the ones that the Blues face in the Premier League on a weekly basis for the younger players in the squad.
The Blues obviously won the Europa League last season, so the majority of their squad have ample experience in European competition. They have the quality to get out of the group in a comfortable manner, which would be great for new boss Lampard in the difficult season.
The favourites to win the group
The fact that Chelsea are favourites to win the group at odds of 8/11, illustrates that the draw could have been worse for the Blues. They could have been handed a much tougher task that is for sure.
If Chelsea performs to the best of their ability, then Frank Lampard’s team should well make it the group stages of the competition. The inexperienced boss is unlikely to be judged too harshly in his debut campaign, not by the fans anyway.
Enjoying a good run in the Champions League can only help the former Derby boss gain some patience from the club’s hierarchy, which would be good for the continuity at the south west London club.
Will Chelsea win their Champions League group?
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!