Captain Azpilicueta returns for holders Chelsea ahead of Lille clash

London/Paris, Feb 21 (EFE).- Fresh off winning the FIFA Club World Cup, Chelsea host a Lille team looking to pull off a major upset in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 on Tuesday.

The holders will have a big boost against the French club, as César Azpilicueta will be available for the game having missed the Blues’ Premier League 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Chelsea will need the best version of Hakim Ziyech, who scored the winner against Crystal Palace, but also more from striker Romelu Lukaku, to keep their Champions League campaign rolling, especially with Mason Mount sidelined.

Mount, Chelsea’s Premier League top scorer with seven goals, sustained an injury during the Club World Cup that has kept him on the sidelines. Chelsea will also be missing Callum Hudson-Odoi due to injury.

Lukaku, who signed last year for a club record fee, has scored just five goals this season, a factor in their inconsistent Premier League campaign that has them trailing leader Manchester City by 13 points.

During December and January, Chelsea were held to five draws and were handed two defeats, but they rediscovered their winning form on the way to lifting their maiden Club World Cup title earlier this month in the UAE.

Lille will also hope to shake off their domestic inconsistency. The Ligue 1 defending champion are in a disappointing 11th spot in the table.

They, however, made the knockout stages of the Champions League as Group G winners, momentum they will be looking to build on despite their recent goalless draw against Metz.

Jocelyn Gourvennec’s regular starters are available for the game, except for Portuguese star Renato Sanches who has not been available since 22 January. EFE


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