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The Blues continue to go from bad to worse as the 2022/23 season progresses. Frank Lampard’s return has not helped their cause but they have the opportunity to get something out of the season with a strong finish in the Champions League.
Chelsea has to overcome a two-goal deficit at Stamford Bridge if they are to progress to the semi-finals. Karim Benzema continues to haunt them as does Vinicius Jr. The Brazilian continues to improve at Santiago Bernabeu and has been their driving force while the Frenchman adds to his goalscoring tally for Real Madrid alongside him.
🇧🇷 Vinícius Jr. (22) among all 1,917 players from last two editions of the Champions League:
• 1st in assists (10)
• 1st in decisive passes (47)
• 1st in accurate dribbling (68)
• 1st in duels won (141)
• 1st in fouls suffered (43)
• 3rd in G/A (20)
— Madrid Zone (@theMadridZone) April 13, 2023
Squeeze space from Vinicius
Benzema has 11 goals in his last four matches against English opponents. The Madrid talisman will be looking to add to his tally against Chelsea. However, it is his partner in crime, Vinicius, who needs to be shackled.
Kepa Arrizabalaga has been on the receiving end of the duos’ proficiency. The goalkeeper hailed the 22-year-old attacker and believes in his current form he is ‘unstoppable’ when given space to exploit.
If the Blues are to triumph against Madrid, Arrizabalaga knows how to do it. The shot-stopper believes Chelsea has given him too much space, which allows him to thrive. Peg the attacker in their own half and the West Londoners can keep him quiet.
“Of course, we have a plan to stop Vinicus Jr. We have an idea. As a team, against Real Madrid we are not dealing with just one player. If you think about one, someone else will hurt you.” pic.twitter.com/xgcFaKGS6U
— Players Sayings (@PlayersSayings) April 17, 2023
“He is a player that is in great form. He is an amazing player, with space he is unstoppable. We left too much space behind for him. We were on the back foot, chasing him metres behind. We must push to keep them in their own half, it is something we can work on tomorrow. At this moment he is amazing, yeah.
“Obviously we have a plan, as a team. It is a team sport, it is not one player we are up against. We have to work as a team to stop Vinicius and all of the other players.
Thriving while everyone else struggles
It was under Lampard that the Blues added Eduard Mendy to their dressing room. The Spaniard was pushed to the sidelines and only made a combined 29 appearances in the last two seasons. He has already made 32 appearances this season and a further nine matches remain until the culmination of the 2022/23 campaign.
The shot-stopper has been the reason for staving off Chelsea’s humiliation on numerous occasions. Reflecting on his changing fortunes, Arrizabalaga admitted his confidence is returning and it has helped him deliver. However, it has been a bitter sweet experience as the club are not having their best moments.
“I think it is a positive season for me personally. I think the last two seasons I played 15 games per season. This season I am playing more. I am feeling good, I am feeling confident. I am enjoying it on the pitch. That is basic, the most important thing. The season in general is not the best one but personally I think I am happy with my season,” Kepa remarked.
“Now I am playing. Frank came here again and is our manager. He is taking decisions every game. When he picked me I am trying to give my best,” the Spaniard added.
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