Chelsea have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after sailing to a 2-0 first-leg win over Lille at Stamford Bridge three weeks ago.
The reigning Champions League holders travel to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy defending a substantial two-goal lead against defensively sound Les Dogues.
Since faltering in London, Lille have turned on their defensive mode, going three successive Ligue 1 matches without conceding (W2, D1).
The French side’s strong defending could be undone by growing scoring problems that have seen them draw a blank in three of their last five competitive fixtures.
Despite experiencing a three-game winless start to their Champions League group stage journey (D2, L1), Lille eventually finished top of Group G, leaving Sevilla, Wolfsburg and Red Bull Salzburg in their wake.
Entertainment has been relatively sparse at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy this European season, as two of Lille’s three Champions League group matches ended 0-0, barring a 1-0 win over Salzburg on Matchday 5.
Before stringing together three consecutive victories between Matchday 4 and 6, Les Dogues had gone ten Champions League games without winning on the trot (D3, L7).
The abovementioned triumph over Salzburg marked Lille’s second win in their last 19 European outings on home turf (D9, L8), which sums up their underdog status in this tie in a nutshell.
Chelsea left it late against Newcastle United at the weekend as Kai Havertz’s 89th-minute winner handed the Blues a 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge, taking their winning streak in all competitions to four.
Despite finishing runners-up to Juventus in Group H, Tuchel’s men have only lost one of their seven Champions League fixtures this season (W4, D2, L1).
A 1-0 defeat at Juventus on Matchday 2 earlier this season was Chelsea’s fourth reverse across their last 27 matches in the Champions League proper (W17, D6).
The Pensioners’ impressive Champions League form, coupled with a run of only two losses from their last 20 away games in European football (W13, D5), strongly backs their bid to keep hold of their first-leg lead.
Renato Sanches limped off the pitch in the first half during Lille’s lacklustre goalless home draw with Saint-Etienne at the weekend, ruling himself out of this encounter.
Ben Chilwell and Reece James are still out for Chelsea, with Tuchel hoping to have Cesar Azpilicueta and Callum Hudson-Odoi recovered in time for Wednesday’s trip to France.
Lille Potential Starting XI:
(4-4-2): Leo Jardim; Zeki Celik, Jose Fonte, Sven Botman, Tiago Djalo; Jonathan Bamba, Benjamin Andre, Xeka, Gabriel Gudmundsson; Jonathan David, Burak Yilmaz.
Chelsea Potential Starting XI:
(3-4-3): Edouard Mendy; Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta, Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic, Marcos Alonso; Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Christian Pulisic.
Lille vs Chelsea Prediction
Jocelyn Gourvennec will have to abandon his defensive-minded football philosophy if Lille are to turn this tie on its head, which would put them well beyond their comfort zone.
The defending Ligue 1 champions have developed a habit of dropping back and waiting for an opportunity to catch their opponents on the counter.
With a 2-0 deficit effectively prohibiting Lille’s reliance on their usual defensive set-up, Chelsea could have plenty of space to exploit in search of a third goal that would land a knock-out blow on the hosts.
Hence, we back the Blues to win in France.
Lille 0-2 Chelsea