Cesar Azpilicueta called for Chelsea to be realistic with Callum Hudson-Odoi but acknowledged the teenage winger is set to be a "massive player" for the club.

Hudson-Odoi has reclaimed his place in the Chelsea team after returning from a ruptured Achilles, starring against Newcastle United last week and then making his first Champions League start away at Ajax.

The England international was less effective in Amsterdam on Wednesday than he had been in recent weeks, but Frank Lampard's men earned a precious 1-0 away win.

Club captain Azpilicueta was not concerned by a quiet showing from Hudson-Odoi, recognising the inconsistency that comes with a young player who still has just six Premier League starts to his name.

Azpilicueta said: "We don't have to forget that Callum is 18 years old and his progression in the last 12-15 months, with an injury in between... We have to be realistic.

"The way he worked for the team, the way he always showed the ability to get the ball, to dribble, not to have any fear to hide in between the full back.

"I think Callum is a very important player for us. He's going to be massive player in the future for Chelsea but we have to accept the progression.

"Still, to be 18 years old and the way he's playing is amazing. The only way I can see is by his work rate going up and improving."

Hudson-Odoi is one of a number of academy graduates now in the Chelsea first team, with Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham earning international call-ups this season while Reece James is also breaking through.

Azpilicueta has been pleased with both the way the young stars are adapting to their new demands and with the support they are receiving from more experienced team-mates.

"The players who have more experience in these games try to help the young lads," he said. "For some of them, it's the first year in the Premier League, the first year in the Champions League.

"So we have to be a help for all of them, use our experience to keep them confident and make them express themselves the way they have been doing in the academy.

"It is very important for them to feel confident. It is the way we are working.

"But a lot of credit goes to them because they are good lads, they listen, they want to improve in every training session and learn from the more experienced players, the manager and the staff. It is the right way to keep improving."

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag rued "sloppy" play from his side in Wednesday's late defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League.

Michy Batshuayi struck with four minutes remaining to seal three priceless away points for the Blues, who are level with Ajax on six points after three Group H games.

It was a tough defeat for Ajax given Quincy Promes had a goal ruled out for the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hit the post at the Johan Cruijff ArenA.

Ten Hag felt there was nothing to split the teams but acknowledged his side were perhaps not quite at their best.

"It was an equal match in which we were the closest to a goal for a long time," he said in quotes reported by ad.nl.

"Top matches are decided on details and we didn't look good at that goal. I sometimes found our play was sloppy. The disappointment is huge. We were equal."

Ten Hag refused to be critical of Promes' tight VAR call, adding: "It is ultimately up to the video referee."

Centre-back Daley Blind felt a draw would have been a fairer reflection of a tight game.

"We were sloppy at times," he said. "We can blame ourselves because that is something we are normally very strong at.

"It was a struggle and we fought. Chelsea are a top team and we didn't make it easy for them. It was a 0-0 match. That result would have been more appropriate I think."

Frank Lampard believes Michy Batshuayi's match-winning moment in Chelsea's 1-0 triumph at Ajax was just reward for the patience he has shown this season.

The Belgium striker hammered home from fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's assist with four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to snatch a potentially priceless three points in Champions League Group H.

Batshuayi replaced Lampard's first-choice striker Tammy Abraham, who had been mainly subdued, and had already missed a great chance before thumping in Chelsea's winner.

"The fact Christian Pulisic comes on in the last two games and gets two assists, changes games, I thought his performance was outstanding for 25 minutes or whatever it was," Lampard told BT Sport. 

"And Michy, the great thing about the strikers I've got is that, even though Tammy has been scoring for me, the other two stayed patient, worked hard, supported the group and they've got talent.

"So, it was a choice to bring Michy on because of how mobile he can be and he's waited for his moment and he fully deserved his moment there."

Chelsea have now won consecutive away Champions League matches for the first time since 2013 and sit level with Ajax on six points after three matches.

There were a couple of near misses for the Blues, with Quincy Promes having a goal ruled out for a narrow offside call and Edson Alvarez seeing a header hit the post.

"It was our mistake [that led to Ajax's offside goal] and that's why the Champions League is what it is, that's why it's the ultimate because, in a tiny second, if you switch off, it can go against you," Lampard added. 

"But we deserved our luck, I think. I'm a big believer in that, in how you prepare what you're doing with the input out there, you deserve that little break. 

"We haven't had many VAR breaks this season anyway so I suppose it might have been coming, you make your own luck on that one and the one that hits the post. 

"But I thought, for such a creative side that they are, we didn't have Kepa [Arrizabalaga] under many problems and we did have a lot of moments for us in the box where, had we been better, we could have scored more."

Batshuayi was delighted with his strike but was keen for the focus to be on the team effort.

"I think all the team worked hard," he said. "It's good to win, to get three points. I know [I scored the winner] but the important thing is the three points tonight."

Michy Batshuayi's late strike earned Chelsea a 1-0 win at Ajax in Wednesday's Champions League Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

The Belgium striker thumped home fellow substitute Christian Pulisic's low cross with just four minutes remaining at Johan Cruijff ArenA to earn the Blues back-to-back way wins in the competition.

Batshuayi had earlier wasted a gilt-edged chance for Frank Lampard's side in a game that had been struggling to get going.

Ajax will feel aggrieved not to have taken at least a point, though, with Quincy Promes on the wrong end of the narrowest of offside calls and Edson Alvarez hitting the post in the second half.

Luis Suarez is bidding to end a miserable run in away Champions League matches as Barcelona travel to play Slavia Prague in one of eight games on Wednesday.

Barca earned an important win over Inter on matchday two but still have work to do to progress from a competitive Group F that also contains Borussia Dortmund, who face Antonio Conte's side this time around.

Chelsea travel to play Group H pace-setters Ajax in Amsterdam, having got their campaign back on track with a win against Lille last time out.

Liverpool trail Napoli in Group E but will be confident of defeating Genk after edging a thrilling contest against Salzburg 4-3 at Anfield three weeks ago.

Below, we have highlighted the key data ahead of Wednesday's contests.

RB Leipzig v Zenit

7 - RB Leipzig's last seven Champions League results have alternated between a win and a defeat. They lost their last match 2-0 at home to Lyon.

10 - Zenit are winless in their last 10 away European matches (including qualifiers), drawing three and losing seven since beating Real Sociedad 3-1 in a Europa League match back in December 2017.
 

Ajax v Chelsea

5 -  If he scores against Chelsea, Quincy Promes will become the fifth Dutchman in the history of the European Cup/Champions League to score in three consecutive appearances for Ajax. The others are Johan Cruyff (April 1969), Ruud Geels (November 1977), Ruud Krol (October 1979) and Patrick Kluivert (October 1995). 

8 - Since losing 3-0 at Barcelona in March 2018, Chelsea have lost none of their eight away European matches (W6 D2 L0), their longest ever unbeaten away run on the continent.
 

Salzburg v Napoli

0 -  This is the first Champions League encounter between an Austrian team and an Italian side since December 2005, when Juventus won 3-1 away at Rapid Vienna. A team from Austria have never beaten an Italian outfit in the Champions League (W0 D1 L7).

19 – Including qualifiers, Salzburg have not lost any of their last 19 home European matches (W15 D4 L0), winning the last six in a row.
 

Genk v Liverpool

14 - Should Genk fail to defeat Liverpool, they will set a record for games played in the European Cup/Champions League without winning. They have played 14 so far (W0 D8 L6), level with Floriana and Shamrock Rovers.

1 – Liverpool have won only one of their last 10 away Champions League group-stage matches (W1 D3 L6), losing each of the last four in a row.
 

Benfica v Lyon

10 - No French side has ever won an away European match against Benfica in 14 attempts (W0 D4 L10), with 10 different teams failing to win.

2 – Lyon are looking to win consecutive away Champions League matches in the same campaign for the first time since 2009, when they beat Debreceni and Liverpool.
 

Inter v Borussia Dortmund

6 - Inter are winless in six European matches against German opposition (W0 D1 L5) since a 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League in March 2011.

2 – Dortmund have only conceded two goals in their last eight Champions League group stage matches, keeping clean sheets in seven of those matches.
 

Slavia Prague v Barcelona

4 – This is the first meeting between the two sides in Europe, though Barcelona have won all four of their previous Champions League meetings against Czech opponents.

19 – Suarez scored twice against Inter on MD2 in Barcelona's 2-1 victory, but the Uruguay striker is goalless in his last 19 away Champions League matches, attempting 59 shots without success since a goal against Roma in September 2015.
 

Lille v Valencia

6 - Lille are yet to defeat a Spanish team in the Champions League in six attempts (W0 D3 L3), facing Deportivo de La Coruna, Villarreal and Valencia previously without success.

11 – Valencia have failed to score in seven of their last 11 Champions League matches. Prior to that run, they had been unable to score in just seven of their previous 33 in the competition.

Frank Lampard acknowledges Chelsea are still a "long way" behind Champions League opponents Ajax in terms of youth development.

Blues head coach Lampard has put his faith in a number of the club's academy graduates this season, with Chelsea serving a two-window transfer ban.

Centre-back Fikayo Tomori, midfielder Mason Mount, winger Callum Hudson-Odoi and striker Tammy Abraham are among a cadre of youngsters handed first-team opportunities.

However, Ajax - long heralded for their own production line - have again set the benchmark for European clubs after a squad laden with young talent reached the semi-finals of last season's Champions League.

"We've got a long way to go to claim the similarities," Lampard said on the eve of the Group H encounter in Amsterdam.

"It's great we have a good feeling at the club, in terms of the young players that have come through. I think it's long-deserved recognition for the academy itself and those players as well. 

"But we are at a place here that is steeped in history of bringing young players through, creating great teams with groups of young players over the years. 

"We have a long way to go to do that. But in the short term, I'm certainly happy and we need to continue working so that they continue their development, the young players."

Lampard was asked whether Chelsea's hierarchy had discussed emulating the Ajax model but warned against simply trying to copy the Dutch giants.

He said: "I am not privy to it, and I am sat here from afar so I wouldn't want to go into too much detail. 

"I think it is something that is not so smart, to copy a model from somewhere else in the world that looks like it has done from the outside. 

"I think we can sort of constantly re-evaluate ourselves and see where we can improve. I am certainly happy that ex-players are here, but I don't think that is the end. I think we have to keep pushing for results and performances on the pitch."

Despite lauding what Ajax achieved in the previous campaign, Lampard has urged his players not to feel any trepidation about the fixture against the Eredivisie champions.

"I respect the team. We saw the way this team played last year, and I know that the team has changed slightly," he explained.

"I am very aware of the new threats of the team and anywhere to travel in the Champions League is a difficult match. 

"They have won two games in the group convincingly, so definitely it is not a fact of being scared of Ajax. We have confidence in ourselves."

Chelsea will be without Ross Barkley, N'Golo Kante and Antonio Rudiger for Wednesday's Champions League clash with Ajax, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed.

The Blues face Ajax in Amsterdam having claimed three points from their first two games and they will be well aware of the test Erik ten Hag's men pose.

Injuries will make Chelsea's challenge even trickier against opponents who have won successive games at the start of the group stage, as Barkley, Kante and Rudiger are all absent from the squad.

Kante suffered a groin injury on international duty with France, Barkley sustained a "nasty" ankle problem against Newcastle United on Saturday and Rudiger is still out with a pelvic issue.

Lampard expressed concern for Barkley after the Newcastle win, though he expects the England midfielder to be back in training this week.

"They're obviously all not here," Lampard told reporters. "Ross will hopefully be fit to train by the time we get back on Thursday.

"Rudiger has trained with us today [Tuesday], which is part of a small programme to have him fit. He's going to be out of contention for the weekend but hopefully soon [he'll be back].

"N'Golo similarly, he's training but we'll see how he is for the weekend. Not clear yet on that one."

Chelsea head into the match having won five on the spin in all competitions, with much of the squad hitting form.

Lampard has an abundance of talent on the flanks in particular and has recently been encouraged by Callum Hudson-Odoi, who starred at the weekend and could make his first Champions League start.

"I think he is [ready] but so are other players," Lampard added. "There comes my problem for selection for games because I have a competitive squad of players that some are fresh to the Champions League, some have been before.

"Isolating Callum, I thought his performance against Newcastle showed huge signs of what we want to see. We know the talent there. It's great his contract is signed now, weeks ago.

"I thought the problems he gave Newcastle consistently were things that I really want to see from him, which are: end product, delivery into the box, getting at people and running behind people. All those things are what we all know Callum has as a young talent.

"There's no guarantees there, but I think for all the young players, the extra level that the Champions League is – in terms of detail, focus, concentration for 90 minutes, making the most of tiny moments – will be a test for all the young players, not just Callum."

Erik ten Hag compared Chelsea's philosophy under Frank Lampard to that of his own Ajax side ahead of their Champions League clash.

Chelsea have won seven of their 13 matches since Lampard replaced Maurizio Sarri in July, including five victories in a row ahead of their trip to Amsterdam.

Lampard has used Chelsea's transfer ban to his advantage by promoting the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount into the first team, but his side trail Group H leaders Ajax by three points after two matches following their home loss to Valencia last month.

Ajax caught the eye during their run to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season and have yet to taste defeat in any competition in 2019-20, though Ten Hag - linked with the Chelsea job prior to Lampard's appointment - suggested his side enter Wednesday's match as underdogs.

"First, last year was last year. We are building a new team and developing a new team," he said. "Now we have to step up and become better. Sometimes you fall down but you also have to step up again and be better, develop. That's only possible when you play out of your philosophy and have an attitude to be better every day.

"We kind of have the philosophy of Chelsea, when I see them and their football philosophy. They want to play football, want to play in the opponents' half and they want to press high and stay in the opponents' half, which is pretty similar to Ajax.

"We are self-aware, brave and we have faith in ourselves, but Ajax is not a favourite against big clubs from the Premier League.

"Winning is always our goal, but if it appears that a draw is the maximum result, we will do everything to get a draw."

Asked if there was any truth to the rumours linking him with Stamford Bridge vacancy earlier this year, Ten Hag replied: "No, I only focus on Ajax. No, no truth."

Daley Blind has been a regular for Ajax since rejoining the Dutch champions from Manchester United in July 2018 and echoed Ten Hag's views on Chelsea's change of direction.

"They are doing well, their philosophy, like the manager said, they want to play from the back," said Blind, who has experience of playing against Chelsea from his time at Old Trafford.

"They play different attacking football with a lot of youngsters and that's something nice to see.

"l have several good memories of playing them - they're always big games. If you pick out a player, [Eden] Hazard in the last few years was always an attractive player to watch.

"He's not there now and they're a different team. They have a lot of youngsters and it's good to see."

Virgil van Dijk is been joined by six Liverpool team-mates in the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are also present.

Van Dijk played a vital role as Liverpool won the 2018-19 Champions League, producing several standout performances at the heart of Jurgen Klopp's defence en route to the title, making him one of the favourites for major individual awards.

He was pipped to The Best FIFA Men's Player award by Barcelona star Messi, who will surely be Van Dijk's biggest competition for the Ballon d'Or having inspired a Barca side many consider underwhelming to the league title.

Fellow Reds stars Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all join Van Dijk on the list.

Ajax captured the imagination of neutrals in Europe's elite competition last term, reaching the semi-finals in stunning fashion before dramatically going out to Tottenham, and a couple of players from the Amsterdam's club are nominated.

Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic are in the running, while Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt - who have since moved on to Barcelona and Juventus respectively - are also included.

Elsewhere, Premier League champions Manchester City are represented by Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero 

Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris are included from the losing Champions League finalists' ranks, but there is no place for Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen.

Last year's winner Luka Modric also misses out following a below-par year for Real Madrid, as does Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

The Ballon d'Or winner will be named in Paris on December 2.

Meanwhile, De Ligt is one of 10 youngsters nominated for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is listed for the prestigious accolade and Joao Felix - signed by Atletico Madrid from Benfica for €126m earlier this year - is also in contention.

Four contenders for the Yachine Trophy ply their trade in the Premier League, with Alisson, Ederson, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lloris included on the 10-man shortlist.

The likes of Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are also battling it out to win the new award, which is handed to the best goalkeeper of the past 12 months.


Full list of Ballon d'Or nominees:

Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Alisson (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Mohammed Salah (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid).

Ajax boss Erik ten Hag has refused to rule out a high-profile return to Bayern Munich.

Dutchman Ten Hag coached Bayern's reserves from 2013 to 2015 before returning to his homeland to join FC Utrecht.

The 49-year-old then moved to Ajax and led the powerhouse to the Eredivisie title last term, as well as the Champions League semi-finals.

Bayern have struggled for consistency in the Bundesliga this season and sit third in the table, just one point above ninth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

As a result, Bayern coach Niko Kovac's future has been the subject of speculation, and when asked by Kicker if he would be open to going back to the Bundesliga giants, Ten Hag said: "I do not exclude anything."

"But I'm almost 50 and [I am] not a dreamer. It comes - or it does not come."

Asked to comment on his time in Munich, Ten Hag added: "For me, it was about coming to an association like Bayern.

"Pep Guardiola was there, and more importantly, [sporting director] Matthias Sammer with his strategic approach and mentality, which he brings to a club.

"Under Guardiola, Bayern played dominant [football] … everyone on the pitch knew what he had to do."

Despite the big-money departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, Ajax have started the 2019-20 campaign in good fashion, winning eight of a possible 10 Eredivisie matches to top the table, three points ahead of rivals PSV.

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