Chelsea returns to the UEFA Champions League tonight after a season away as the Blues host La Liga side Valencia in Frank Lampard’s managerial debut in the European competition.
Like me, I’m sure you’re all looking forward to hearing the famous anthem at Stamford Bridge again… Yes I know, it’s been a while since we last heard it at home.
In this match preview, we will get to know our opponents Valencia and see what we can expect from them on tonight.
Who is Valencia? We could say that they are the 4th best team in Spain, behind Barcelona and the two Madrid sides in Real and Atlético. They have a very talented midfield and an exquisite attacking line, which we should not take them for granted as they can be a match for any team.
Last season, Valencia reached the Semi-Finals of the UEFA Europa League being eliminated by Arsenal but were Copa del Rey winners (the Spanish equivalent of the FA Cup) after defeating Leo Messi’s Barcelona.
It should be noted that Los Ches usually starts with the same formation (4-4-2) and tend to have a well-settled starting XI, not rotating that much.
Carlos Soler is one of the great threats of the Spanish team, but he is injured and will miss tonight’s game.
The weakest point of the Spanish side is their defensive line and I personally doubt that they can stop the likes of Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount from scoring if they have the day. On the other hand, a midfield that contains Daniel Parejo as the creator of the side, along with Gonçalo Guedes and Ferran Torres on the wings, is something to absolutely not overlook as they will punish you if given the chance.
The thing does not get better for us when we analyze their attack since Kevin Gameiro (inconsistent but talented) and Rodrigo can be very dangerous.
Another thing that attracts attention is the quality of substitutes in Valencia. Until now, Denis Cherishev, Lee Kang-in and Maxi Gómez have been taken off the bench in the form of speed for all the second parts of the matches they have played so far this season, so we should expect to see them the further we go into the second-half.
So… what about us?
N’Golo Kanté, Antonio Rüdiger, Emerson Palmieri and Ruben Loftus-Cheek will all miss out tonight due to their respective injuries, with it also being expected that the game has come too soon for both Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Frank Lampard has revealed the club’s targets for this year’s European campaign during the pre-match press conference yesterday:
“I Think the target is to qualify in the group, but I think we have talent that can blossom in the Champions League.”Frank Lampard during yesterday’s press conference
After the best performance so far against Wolves this past weekend, Lampard’s team are now in the best shape to start their Champions League campaign. At least Frank knows his side can score goals regularly which would make it easier to concentrate on the problems that still remain unsolved, like keeping a clean sheet for example.
What it is clear is that Lampard has come with new ideas, with the more experienced players such as Jorginho, César Azpilicueta and Mateo Kovačić soaking up the new dynamic in the team.
It was a surprise for everyone not to see Christian Pulisic in the last game against Wolves, but considering that no matter how young he is, he is one of the most experienced players we have in the squad (already having 22 Champions League appearances to his name during his time at Borussia Dortmund).
The main thing tonight though is for Chelsea to get off to a winning start.