Analysis

Cesar Azpilicueta explains significance of Lille victory and lends encouragement to Christian Pulisic

Cesar Azpilicueta recognised the effort put in last night by a Chelsea team containing many players without much European experience, and the defender has also spoken about a team-mate of his who was not involved in France.

Azpilicueta started on the right side of a back three against Lille last night. A little further ahead of him Reece James was making his European debut for the club, and he was replaced by Callum Hudson-Odoi midway through the second half for what was also his bow at this level.

Factor in that Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham were playing their maiden Champions League game on the road, and our first three points in the competition feel all the more impressive.

‘It was very positive to see these young lads involved in the Champions League, and a great experience for all of them,’ said Azpilicueta.

‘For a few of them it was their first Champions League game, for some of them it was their first game away from home. Hopefully we can all live that kind of night for a long time.

‘It was a good result,’ continued the skipper. ‘We were coming from a difficult moment against Valencia. We knew Lille would be tough and they showed why. We were controlling the game well in the first 25 minutes until we conceded from a set-play. We had to dig in to get the three points.’

That we did to keep us right in contention in Group H, with a pair of fixtures against leaders Ajax to follow. One man hoping to get his first taste of European football in a Chelsea shirt soon is Christian Pulisic. While the American has been less involved of late, Azpilicueta stressed he will have a crucial part to play in the coming months.

‘As the manager said, we are a group, we are all important on this long path, we are only in October. Sometimes the manager has to make decisions, but I see him [Pulisic] working hard in training.

‘What I can say is to encourage him to keep working, because we know it is a new country, a new team, a bit of time of adaption is needed. I see him with the character working hard in training, and I’m sure he will be very important for us for the season.’

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