Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Match Preview: Chelsea vs Valencia

Frank Lampard’s first Champions League match as a manager will take place at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday as Chelsea tackle Valencia.

The Blues have a daunting match to come against Liverpool on Sunday, but thoughts of that encounter can be pushed to one side for the time being as the focus shifts into progressing in Europe.

Confidence is high around the London club this week, with the scintillating performances of youngsters Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham firing them to a 5-2 victory over Wolves at the weekend – easily the best display they have shown under their new management.

After seeing the academy graduates shine at the weekend in the Premier League, Lampard is confident they can replicate such form on Europe’s grandest stage against a renowned opponent.

“I think we have talent that can blossom in the Champions League,” he said. “I'm confident but very aware of the dangers.”

The Blues have been placed in an awkward group that also contains last season’s semi-finalists, Ajax, as well as a Lille side that impressed in finishing second in Ligue 1, and Lampard simply wants to ensure that his side finish in the top two come December.

“Our target is to qualify from a tough group,” he said. “It is different from league football; the main thing is that the concentration levels throughout the game have to be spot on. The different level can surprise you.”

Valencia travel to London in the midst of turmoil at the club following the dismissal of popular coach Marcelino, who led them to Copa del Rey success over Barcelona in May.

They had picked up a commendable four points from their opening three matches but under Albert Celades for the first time at the weekend, they conceded twice in the opening 10 minutes en route to a heavy loss in Barcelona.

“Of course the situation is not ideal but we will work on it and improve, we are playing in the best club competition in the world and must showcase ourselves,” the new coach said.

“Chelsea are a great team and another big challenge for us.”

With rumours of discord already between the coach and squad – there was no first-team player put forward for a media interview on Tuesday – Celades has a mountain to climb.

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