Chelsea and Sevilla shared the points on Champions League Group E opening night at Stamford Bridge, with neither side finding a breakthrough as it finished Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla.
Lampard’s line up contained three changes as Mendy, Thiago Silva and Reece James returned to the back-line in a bid to sure things up after Saturday’s disappointing, error-filled draw at home to Southampton.
Those defensive frailties would need to be patched up if Chelsea were to start the seasons Champions League campaign off with a victory, against a very experienced European side in Sevilla – most notably the Europa League where the Spanish side won last season’s trophy. Interestingly, that meant that the game presented a match-up between the last two Europa League winners, after Chelsea’s 2019 victory under Maurizio Sarri.
The early stages were bitty and untidy from both sides, as they struggled to hold on to possession and create any meaningful chances in the first ten minutes. That meant it took 18 minutes for a goalkeeper to be called into action, as Mendy got down very well and reacted brilliantly to deal with a header from a free-kick that then took a deflection on its route to goal. It was a smart stop from Mendy, which Chelsea fans would’ve been pleased to see after his recent injury scare.
With half an hour on the clock it appeared Chelsea had cut through the visitors backline, as Timo Werner raced through on goal and touched it round the advancing Sevilla keeper, however, he took it slightly too far as the ball rolled out for a goal kick. The German’s blushes were spared as the linesman raised his flag for offside, but Sevilla wouldn’t want to be giving the Chelsea striker any more chances to get his eye in.
Werner then had his first shot on target moments later, as James’ cross tricked all the way through to him at the back post, but the underpowered effort didn’t trouble Bono who claimed it comfortably. As half time approached the home side began to grow into the game, holding on to the ball much more and stringing together some good passages of play.
Despite that, Lampard’s side were finding it hard to break the opposition down and it was in fact Sevilla who had the best chance just before the break. Kurt Zouma, perhaps with Saturday’s loose back pass still in mind, fluffed a clearance from a cross that dropped to Lucas Ocampos, who should’ve done better as his strike was saved comfortably by Mendy.
Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla at half-time.
Something would have to change in the second half if Chelsea were to find any joy in front of goal, and that appeared to be that Lampard had instructed the Blues to move the ball faster in attack.
That almost paid off very early in proceedings after a direct run at the defence from Pulisic resulted in a corner, which Chilwell whipped in towards Zouma, who’s header needed saving by Bono.
Chelsea may have been moving the ball quicker, but Sevilla’s organisation was proving extremely difficult to break down, which perhaps meant a different approach would need to be taken and that was a task Werner was happy to take on as he took aim from distance. The forward’s effort from 25 yards out had good power on it as it dipped and swerved towards goal, however, the shot wasn’t in the corner enough as Bono saved comfortably.
Just after the hour mark and with the score still goalless, Lampard looked to the bench and replaced Mount with Ziyech, hoping the Moroccan could replicate some of his Champions League magic he produced in his Ajax days to help break the deadlock.
Sevilla’s first effort on goal of the second half, coming with 65 minutes on the clock, almost opened the scoring in unbelievable style, as substitute Jordán waited on the edge of the area as a corner was floated over towards him, before smashing a volley inches of the bar. It was a brilliant strike and would’ve been a wonderful goal.
As the game approached the final ten minutes, it had more of a knockout round match feel to it rather than the group stage opener that it was, with neither side too keen on overextending and leaving themselves exposed or open to counter attacks.
Lampard’s final throw of the dice was to bring on Tammy Abraham and Callum Hudson-Odoi for stoppage time, a trend that the majority of Chelsea fans will want to see the end for the latter sooner rather than later as it seems to be getting more and more difficult for the youngster to display the fantastic ability he’s known to have.
The referee blew for full time after what had been a less than the eventful second half, as Chelsea and Sevilla shared the points in the first game of the group stage. Full time: Chelsea 0-0 Sevilla.
The result means that Chelsea keep an impressive clean sheet, which is a positive step after conceding three at the weekend. It’s now about finding the right balance for Frank Lampard’s Chelsea, who defended much better as a unit, however that seemed to nulify the Blues’ attacking threat.
Written by Dom Domaingue
Edited by Rob Pratley