Chelsea make their return to the Champions League on Tuesday night when they welcome Valencia CF to Stamford Bridge. It will mark Frank Lampard’s first match as a manager in Europe’s top club competition and Chelsea’s return to the competition after not taking place in the Champions League last season.
Chelsea should feel good heading into Tuesday night’s contest after winning 5-2 over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday; a match which featured Tammy Abraham recording his first hat-trick for the club.
With seven goals in his last three matches, Abraham looks a sure bet to start on Tuesday night, but there are a few other problems for Lampard to solve ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Antonio Rudiger made his return from a knee injury on Saturday but injured his groin during the first half and is again absent. N’Golo Kante has also been dealing with nagging injuries to start the season, but despite returning to training on Monday, he remains a question mark for Tuesday night.
Tactically, Lampard also has a conundrum to solve. Against Wolves, Chelsea lined up in a back three for the first time this season and looked far more solid defensively than they have in recent weeks, despite having still not kept a clean sheet.
With Kante still likely to be sidelined, there is a chance that Chelsea could once again line up in that formation, particularly against a Valencia side that does play in a very compact shape and looks to counter attack at pace.
But is that the style that Valencia will play at Stamford Bridge? There’s quite a bit of uncertainty around Valencia at the moment after the sacking of Marcelino last week. It came as a shock to most since Marcelino’s Valencia won the Copa del Rey last season and also finished fourth in the league.
Albert Celades has taken over, and in his first match in charge on Saturday, Valencia were handed their own 5-2 defeat against Barcelona.
It’s likely that Valencia’s style of play won’t change a whole lot under Celades, but the sacking of a manager who was popular with the players doesn’t always go over well. But it can also galvanise a team, and Valencia’s players might see a match away at Stamford Bridge as a chance to release some of their frustrations with a big victory away from home.