Lampard hopes Chelsea have learned Champions League lessons

By Sports Desk October 19, 2020

Frank Lampard hopes Chelsea's young squad have learned lessons from last season's Champions League campaign ahead of their clash with Sevilla.

On their return to Europe's elite club competition in 2019-20, Chelsea finished second to Valencia in the group stage before losing 7-1 on aggregate to eventual winners Bayern Munich in the last 16.

After conceding a last-gasp equaliser in Saturday's 3-3 Premier League draw with Southampton, the Blues open their Champions League campaign at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

With Chelsea winning only two of their first five league games and already having been dumped out of the EFL Cup, Lampard's men could be tested again when they meet Europa League winners Sevilla, but Lampard is relishing the challenge.

"It is a great platform to learn because you are playing against the best, we played against the best in Bayern Munich and it shows you the quality levels," the Chelsea boss said ahead of the start of their continental campaign, with Rennes and Krasnodar the other teams in Group E.

"We were a young team last year, working a lot to improve, and the Bayern game was a great marker for the young players in the squad to realise the levels that need to be attained. I remember having that myself as a young player.

"Getting through the group was also difficult for us, having lost the first game [against Valencia] – so we had to show a lot of discipline and focus to get through hard matches at Ajax and Lille.

"So hopefully there have been lot of lessons learned from that period.

"I remember the first leg [against Bayern] very well, we didn't play particularly well in the first half but had opportunities to score. Then in the second half they scored goals very quickly and made the tie difficult for us."

Chelsea have won only one of their last nine Champions League games against Spanish opposition, while Sevilla have triumphed in each of their last three European games against English sides – two against Manchester United and another victory over Wolves.

Lampard acknowledged their threat, adding: "I mentioned before about concentration, focus and discipline and that becomes even more important here than other competitions because of the level of Champions League. 

"That's what I would always make very clear to the players going into a match against someone of the quality of Sevilla."

Forward Timo Werner scored his first league goals for Chelsea with a double in the Southampton draw and has some fine Champions League form from his time at RB Leipzig to draw upon.

He has been directly involved in nine goals from his last 11 appearances in the competition, scoring seven times and adding two assists.

Lampard, who will become only the second Englishman to manage in two Champions League campaigns after Bobby Robson, also revealed midfielder Billy Gilmour was moving closer to a first-team return.

The teenager has not played since July due to a bad knee injury.

"Billy's working really well," Lampard said. "Three weeks or so from a return, the other side of the next international break all being well.

"He is working with physios but will hopefully integrate in training soon."

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    Andrea Pirlo is not worried by Juventus' inconsistent form that has so far defined his first season as coach.

    The Juve and Italy legend saw his side held to a 1-1 draw by Benevento on Saturday, leaving the defending Serie A champions six points behind leaders Milan.

    That gap would be just two points if not for the four Juve have dropped from winning positions in the 2020-21 campaign, Benevento coming from behind to force them to settle for their fifth draw from nine league games.

    It is a much better picture in the Champions League for Juve, with the Bianconeri already sure of their qualification for the last 16 ahead of Wednesday's clash with Dynamo Kiev.

    And with the derby with Torino on the horizon after their European commitments, Pirlo is under no illusion as to what Juve need in order to gain ground on Milan.

    "After Benevento, I said that we need more concentration and desire to bring home the points, even when we are ahead in the games," he told a media conference.

    "We've spoken about it and we are all aware of it.

    "I'm absolutely not worried. In Benevento it was our game to win but we weren't good at closing it out and then they managed to do that well, this can happen. We've analysed the match and we will try to improve.

    "We must face all the matches in the same way, both in Europe and in Italy. I would have preferred a little more consistency, but it's normal that it takes a little more time to achieve it. The players know what they must and want to do.

    "When you win, everything is fine; when you don't, problems arise that may not even exist. We are working well to improve."

    Paulo Dybala, who is yet to score in the league this season and has been the subject of continued criticism, is not expected to feature against Dynamo.

    "I don't think we'll see a trident attack tomorrow, Morata will probably play, whilst Dybala will prepare for the derby on Saturday," added Pirlo.

    One player who has impressed this season is Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey.

    Ramsey endured a difficult first season with Juve after joining from Arsenal in 2019. He scored three goals in Serie A, provided one assist and created 20 chances.

    He has yet to find the net in the league this term but already has an assist to his name and has created 10 chances.

    His per-90 minutes average for chances created of 2.67 is second only to Dejan Kulusevski (2.89).

    Pirlo said of Ramsey: "I have to say that Ramsey was a great find for me and he can still improve. For me and for the team he is very important."

  • Gilmour set to return with Lampard adamant Sevilla clash is no dead rubber Gilmour set to return with Lampard adamant Sevilla clash is no dead rubber

    Frank Lampard says Billy Gilmour is looking "spot on" and poised to get his first minutes of the season against Sevilla in the Champions League, a game which he insists has high stakes.

    Chelsea and Sevilla are already through to the last 16 with 10 points from their first four games ahead of Wednesday's match in Spain, which will determine top spot in Group E.

    But Lampard is not yet satisfied, with first place his target even if he makes a few changes to his team amid a busy fixture schedule.

    Victory would give Chelsea four straight Champions League wins and Lampard was in the Blues team the last time they did that in 2012, going on to win that year's competition.

    "Some people are knocking on the door and deserve opportunities, but even though we have qualified we want to win the group," said Lampard.

    "We are fully fit and ready to go. We are not taking it lightly, we want to win the group so I am certainly not expecting a drop in level.

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    Midfielder Gilmour is in contention to make his first appearance of the season after a nasty knee injury kept him out since early July.

    Chelsea boss Lampard also wants to see a response from winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, who was left out of the squad for Sunday's Premier League 0-0 draw with Tottenham.

    Lampard said of 19-year-old Gilmour: "He is looking spot on and will come in to compete with the other players in that midfield area.

    "He is fit now and in the squad. It would be nice if he could get some minutes in the remaining two Champions League group games. Minutes are hard to get in COVID times.

    "I hopefully see him coming back at the level he was at before he got injured. He made a great impact and there will be so much more to come from him at this club because of the talent he has."

    On the decision to omit Hudson-Odoi for the Spurs game, Lampard said: "It was difficult. I have been really pleased with his training lately and his attitude is bang on at the moment - that was reflected with scoring and playing well against Rennes.

    "I have tough decisions when we have a fully fit squad to leave players that work hard - and who are desperate to play for the club - out.

    "I did speak to him personally because I wanted him to understand where he is at. It's a progression and he is getting better for me. He is back in contention and I want to see more of the same." 

    Sevilla have not topped a Champions League group since 2009, while Chelsea last did so in the 2015-16 campaign.

    The two teams drew 0-0 at Stamford Bridge in October, with Sevilla now unbeaten in their last seven meetings with English sides in major European competitions.

    Chelsea, meanwhile, have only won one of their last 10 games against Spanish opponents in the Champions League.

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    Cavani was the star of the show and United's saviour in Sunday's 3-2 win over Southampton, coming off the bench to claim an assist and two goals – in doing so, he became the first player since Solskjaer in 1999 to have at least three goal involvements as a substitute in a single Premier League game.

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    "Of course, we communicated with Edi, he's deeply sorry for the mistake," Solskjaer told reporters. "There was no malicious intent, just an affectionate greeting to a friend of his. We've explained to him and he's been asked to explain to the FA [Football Association], so of course he'll cooperate with them and we'll support him."

    Solskjaer also stressed the importance of the FA getting involved, insisting United must play their part in stamping out discrimination.

    "I think it's one of those unfortunate situations where he's just come into the country, where in Uruguay it's used in a different way to here," he continued. "We'll support him, but we support the FA and it's important they've asked him to explain and that it's out there for everyone to see, because we want to be in the fight against discrimination with everyone."

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    He said: "He's ready to play. Of course, it's special for him to play against PSG, so that'll affect him mentally and, I think from knowing him, it'll give him energy. He'll be ready, he's so professional and experienced.

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    His social media mistake aside, Solskjaer has been impressed by Cavani since his arrival at the start of October – though he urged the Uruguayan to get better at parking his car.

    "I've been impressed with his attention to detail in everything - apart from his parking. He's parking too close to the other players and coaching staff sometimes," Solskjaer quipped.

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