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score and latest updates from the Round of 16 tie

Until they won the Champions League last season, Chelsea had been eliminated in the Round of 16 in their last four campaigns to win Old Big Ears. In 2014-15 and again the following year PSG knocked them out, Antonio Conte’s only attempt while at Stamford Bridge was ended by Barcelona while Frank Lampard’s Chelsea were given the order of the boot by Bayern Munich in an emphatic 7-1 aggregate hammering. 

They have significantly less to fear against the Ligue 1 champions Lille tonight who are in 11th place in defence of their title having lost their manager in the summer and sold too many of their key players – Luiz Araujo, Boubakary Soumare, Reinildo Mandava and Jonathan Ikone. They still have the widely coveted Sven Botman at the back and a revived Renato Sanches in midfield but Jose Fonte is showing his age at 38 while Burak Yilmaz is, understandably, failing to have a second successive Indian summer at the age of 36. Signing 34-year-old free agent Hatem Ben Arfa in January after eight months out of the game since being released by Bordeaux is hardly likely to have Chelsea’s defence quaking in their Mercurials, however occasionally brilliant he has been over a topsy-turvy career.

At Chelsea, it’s all been about Romelu Lukaku since his touch-shy performance against Crystal Palace. Thomas Tuchel has been quick to point out that Chelsea strikers often struggle and there’s no doubt that Chris Sutton, Andriy Shevchenko, Fernando Torres, Mateja Kezman, Timo Werner, Alvaro Morata and Adrian Mutu all failed to live up to the hopes and money invested in them. He may point to Didier Drogba onlys coring 10 and 12 goals in his first two league seasons as an inspiration but Lukaku is much further on in his career in 2022 than Drogba was in 2006 when his goalscoring began to match his selfless all-round contribution. 

Tuchel thinks it might have something to do with their defensive set-up. “In my opinion Chelsea is also a team considered as a strong defensive team, a physical team that has a certain attitude and grit in playing competitive football,” he said. “We demand a lot from our strikers in terms of defending.

“We want to be a physical, hard-working group, that does not shy away from making it a physical game and not only a skilful game. And that maybe plays a part, yes. We have many games throughout our time together, when we’ve created many chances, many deliveries and have struggled a bit in conversion.

“Now in the moment it’s a bit of time where we struggle to create many big chances for our strikers.

“This is also maybe a normal period in a long season. So we are on the subject, we are well aware. And like always in football, it’s not only one reason to solve the problem. It’s a very complex sport and we try to keep on playing with faith in what we do and belief in the team effort – and from there we go.”

Cesar Azpilicueta could be fit to return after a groin issue, though Callum Hudson-Odoi’s chances appear far slimmer due to an Achilles concern. Mason Mount could make the bench after an ankle problem but is unlikely to be ready to start and may have to wait until Sunday’s League Cup final to make his return.

Join us for the team news from around 6.45pm. 



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