a decisive keeper and striker, a major absentee, Blues weakening behind the scenes… What you need to know for the round of 16 second leg

Never able to really put Chelsea in danger in the first leg, Lille lost 2-0 to an unimpressive but brutally effective Blues. Small details made all the difference, as they often do in big games. Jocelyn Gourvennec will have to correct them to try to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, Wednesday, March 16, in a packed Pierre-Mauroy stadium.

Without Renato Sanches, Lille continues to believe in it

With two more goals behind the defending champions, the task couldn’t get any more difficult for Lille. But the Northerners want to believe it. “You can’t stop us from dreaming of a performance”, Jocelyn Gourvennec hammered after Friday’s disappointing draw against Saint-Etienne (0-0). The Losc coach also recalled his desire to score as soon as possible to get to the halfway mark and put pressure on the Blues.

The abolition of the away goal rule also benefits the Mastiffs, who failed to shake the nets at Stamford Bridge. Last year, Lille would have scored three times more than their opponents in a single Chelsea goal at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium.

Still, Lille’s qualification would indeed be an achievement, especially as their best player in the first leg will not appear on the scoresheet. The team’s metronome, Renato Sanches, did indeed injure his left thigh during Friday’s encounter with Saint-Etienne.

Chelsea solid despite uncertainty over Roman Abramovich’s situation

in L’eye From the cyclone following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich saw a hail of sanctions pouring down on him. These economic retaliations target his property, including his club. The British government has struck hard: the Blues, who have seen their spending capped, fear bankruptcy. The sale of the club desired by Abramovich remains uncertain.

“The priority is to take our responsibility for the people who allow us to be in a big club, and that represents hundreds of people”Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel said at a press conference on Tuesday, emphasizing that this situation could also create an extra soul in his players.

In this context, the players are doing quite well with four wins in as many matches in the month of March. Facing the newly wealthy Newcastle on Saturday, the Londoners faced a well-grouped and tenacious team, but managed to score the only goal of the game at the end of the game (89th). At the end of the meeting, Thomas Tuchel underlined the motivation of his troops. For his part, he said he was ready to rent and drive a minibus if necessary to explore Lille.

A defensive serenity found at Léo Jardim

Far from last year’s defensive standards that allowed it to become champions of France, Lille has struggled to keep a clean sheet this season. Of the first 23 league games, the Mastiffs kept clean sheets only twice (against Marseille and Lyon). But after the debacle against PSG, Jocelyn Gourvennec chose to reinvigorate Léo Jardim in goal, and the Portuguese has still not conceded a goal in five Ligue 1 games since his return.

The Mastiffs can therefore count on their keeper and a Fonte-Botman hinge that has regained its shine. Conversely, Chelsea are unbeatable with Edouard Mendy, voted best goalkeeper of the year by UEFA and named best goalkeeper of the year by the International Football Federation in January. The Blues have conceded just 19 goals in 28 Premier League games and kept a clean sheet in five of their seven Champions League games.

Kai Havertz in top form

First goalscorer in the first leg, he had thwarted Lille’s plans from the eighth minute by opening the score. Confident since the Club World Cup and his liberating goal in the 117th minute, the German has scored four goals and provided an assist in the last three league games. It was he again who came to free his team against Newcastle at the end of the game on Saturday.

Kai Havertz celebrates his late goal against Newcastle in the Premier League on 13 March 2022 at Stamford Bridge.  (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP)

Now at the forefront of the attack, the 22-year-old attacking midfielder takes a prominent place in the European championship team despite competition from Romelu Lukaku, while Timo Werner has been moved to one side. The left-hander with a surgical foot is also very dangerous in the air. Lille learned the hard way in the first leg.