Chelsea manager Frank Lampard says reaching the Champions League knockout phase should be their main target.
The former European champions find themselves in a group consisting of Ajax, Lille and Valencia who they welcome to Stamford Bridge first up.
Champions League Group H: Five key things to know…
- One of the more competitive looking groups in this season’s Champions League.
- Chelsea are the current Europa League winners.
- Ajax reached last season’s Champions League semi-finals.
- Lille finished second behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1.
- Valencia defeated Barcelona to win last season’s Copa del Rey.
Having been served a transfer ban in the summer, Chelsea are in an unusual position of not expecting to compete for silverware this season, which subsequently has eased the burden on Lampard who succeeded Maurizio Sarri after the Italian guided them to Europa League triumph last season.
No stranger to Champions League football, Lampard has played in two finals, losing to Manchester United (2008) before defeating Bayern Munich on penalties (2012) in their own backyard. This week, though, represents his debut as a manager in European football’s premier club tournament.
Despite the club’s recent record, Lampard believes their focus should not be going all the way, but rather escaping Group H which on paper looks super competitive especially when you consider Ajax reached the semi-finals last time out, Lille came second to PSG in Ligue 1 and Valencia are one of Spain’s more formidable outfits.
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“I think the target is to qualify from the group. It’s a tough group but I have enough belief in the players,” he told reporters
“The Champions League is almost in two parts. The group phase before Christmas and the knockouts after.
“I believe we can get through but we’re aware it’s going to be tough. If you get through it’s up for grabs in the next phase.
“I’m confident we can get through but fully aware of the dangers of the group.”