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Chelsea will take on Lille in the 2021 UEFA Champions League, UCL, draw that was made on 13th December, and many believe that Chelsea are the favourites to qualify for the next round of the competition, as they believe the Blues have been handed an easy draw fixture against a lower League One side.
Thomas Tuchel’s side avoided tough opponents such as Bayern Munich, Ajax Real Madrid, despite being a runner-up in their group. Ordinarily, we would have expected that Lille should be an easy pass for Chelsea, going to the next round, however, there are a few reasons why Chelsea may not qualify for the next round in their upcoming fixture with the French League One’s side.
1. If they underrate their opponent
It should be recalled that Chelsea have won their two Champions League trophies when many had least expected them to.
In last year’s Champions League, for example, the Blues did well facing bigger opponents, against all odds. Likewise in the Premier League, They beat top managers and top teams but refused to perform too well against lower teams.
For example, they beat Manchester City 3 times in a row, including the FA Cup and in the final of the 2020 Champions League. But what happened in the final of their FA Cup match against Leicester City? What went wrong in their disappointing 3-3 draw against Zenit St. Petersburg in a returning leg of the Champions League. I still fail to understand how Chelsea, who beat Leicester 3-0 and Juventus 4-0, went ahead to lose 3-2 to Westham; a game that many felt should have been an easy win.
Should Chelsea overlook the Lille’s fixture as an easy game or underrate their team, they might end up getting punished.
2. Nations League
Nations League is set to hold from January 9th till February 6th and if Chelsea key players such as Eduardo Mendy, Hakim Zyech and N’golo Kante departs for the competition set to hold in France, it might impact negatively on the team’s selection when the Champions League kicks off on February 15. The reason is, even though these players return before the Champions League continues, not all of them may be readily available for the team’s selection.
3. Recent poor form of first choice keeper Mendy
From Zenit St. Petersburg’s game, down to Westham and Leeds United, Chelsea have conceded more than twice the average goals they usually concede per game.
Currently, Mendy is arguably the best goalkeeper for Chelsea, but unless he returns to his past good form, when he saved key goals for them, Chelsea might find it hard to qualify for the next round of the 2021 Champions League.