Lampard confident Chelsea youngsters will impress in Champions League

By Patric Ridge 16 September 2019 22
Lampard confident Chelsea youngsters will impress in Champions League

Frank Lampard acknowledged he will have to prepare his youthful Chelsea side for a different challenge in the Champions League, as he set progression from the group stage as his only target for now.

Chelsea start their Champions League campaign at home against Valencia - who recently sacked their coach Marcelino and replaced him with former Real Madrid assistant Albert Celades - on Tuesday.

As well as Valencia, Chelsea line up alongside Lille and last season's semi-finalists Ajax in Group H.

The Blues head into Tuesday's encounter on the back of claiming their second Premier League win of the season in style - Tammy Abraham scoring a hat-trick in a 5-2 win at Wolves - but Lampard is putting no pressure on his players.

"The target is clearly to qualify from the group," Lampard told a news conference. 

"Obviously it's a tough group but I have plenty of faith in the young players and the ones who have never played in it who are at the moment in good form and have talent that will hopefully blossom in the Champions League as we go along.

"Always as a player I thought of it as two parts, with the group part before Christmas. It's tough but if we can get through then it's up for grabs in the next part of the year. I'm confident as we should be but very aware of the dangers in a tough group.

"I haven't spoke to them in detail about that yet. We're meeting up tonight in the hotel so we'll have plenty of time to prepare and it is maybe worth a word or two on that because it is different.


"I would say the main thing I found as a player is your concentration and focus in every game has to be spot on, not to say you can get away with it in the Premier League.

"The higher level of player in the Champions League, the different style of game that can surprise you and teams that travel for these games can be fantastic on the counter-attack and hurt you in one second when you think you're controlling the game."

Lampard won the Champions League with Chelsea as a player in 2012, four years after losing to Manchester United in the final, and the former Derby County boss is thrilled to have the chance to take a big step in his coaching career.

"Well I'll be proud to do it because I had multiple incredible nights in the Champions League and some bad ones," he said.

"But it is the ultimate for me, in terms of club football and there's something about nights at Stamford Bridge, the Champions League music and our experiences as Chelsea people, I want to experience it on this side of the fence.

"I'll be proud to take the team out but of course I'm aware that what matters is results and starting the group well against tough opposition. I am excited."

Lampard did confirm Chelsea will be without Antonio Rudiger, N'Golo Kante and Emerson Palmieri, who are all injured, while Callum Hudson-Odoi and Reece James are lacking match fitness.

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Patric Ridge