Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has warned his players they must be on their guard against Lille (Match betting – Chelsea 3/10, draw 9/2, Lille 10/1) and believes the French side have “nothing to lose”.
The defending Champions League winners were handed arguably the kindest draw for the last-16 in the form of Lille.
Despite knocking PSG off their perch last season to claim the French Ligue 1 crown, they have struggled in their title defence and currently sit 11th in the table.
During the summer, they saw some of their star players depart with goalkeeper Mike Maignan leaving for AC Milan, while midfielder Boubakary Soumare went to the Premier League to join Leicester City.
However, they performed admirably in the Champions League and secured a place in the knockout rounds with three successive wins to end the group stage.
A bigger challenge awaits Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side though as they travel to Stamford Bridge to face the Blues, who are seeking back-to-back Champions League (Outright – 8/1) titles after they defeated Manchester City in last years’ final.
Tuchel’s men are expected to progress through but the German, who managed in France with PSG, is convinced it will be a tricky tie.
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Chelsea’s recent form has been patchy with only four wins from their last ten Premier League games and Tuchel has urged his players to respect the challenge.
“The quality of the players and the coach was exceptional and you felt they could fight for a chance in the Champions League,” he said. “Last season they became French champions, which is huge.
“We all know how physical French football is. Players are very brave in one-on-one challenges and very disciplined on the ball. They have the chance to play this game as underdogs with nothing to lose and they will take it from there.
“We respect the game and the opponent and we will prepare our team as we always do and try to find the best performance, which we usually do in knockout matches.”
Tuesday’s other Champions League last-16 tie sees defending Europa League winners Villarreal host Juventus (Match betting – Villarreal 29/20, draw 11/5, Juventus 21/10).
Unai Emery’s side are sixth in the La Liga table after winning three of their last four while Max Allegri’s Juve are enjoying a good run of form themselves, being unbeaten in 12 Serie A games.
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