Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku benched for Chelsea's first leg against Lille

Tom Gott
Lukaku is on the bench
Lukaku is on the bench / Matthew Ashton - AMA/GettyImages
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Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has left club-record signing Romelu Lukaku on the bench for Tuesday's Champions League last 16 first leg against Lille.

Lukaku's struggles have been a major talking point in recent weeks, and his disappointing recent performance against Crystal Palace - in which his seven touches of the ball set a new record low for an outfield player in the Premier League - only increased the pressure on the Belgian.

To try and help his team rediscover their best form, Tuchel has made the bold decision to start Lukaku on the bench against Lille, with Kai Havertz playing in his place up top on what will be his 50th start for the club.

Havertz will play alongside Christian Pulisic and the in-form Hakim Ziyech, whose recent performances have been a shining light for Chelsea.


Chelsea team to face Lille

Starting XI: Mendy; Christensen, Thiago Silva, Rudiger; Azpilicueta, Kante, Kovacic, Alonso; Pulisic, Havertz, Ziyech.

Subs: Kepa; Bettinelli, Jorginho, Lukaku, Werner, Loftus-Cheek, Chalobah, Saul, Mount, Kenedy, Sarr, Vale.


Tuchel has avoided criticising Lukaku in the aftermath of the Palace victory but did claim that his recent struggles could be the result of low self-confidence from the Belgian, who has managed ten goals in 28 appearances across all competitions this season.

"He's in the spotlight and we'll protect him. Romelu will always be part of the solution," Tuchel said.

"Sometimes it's like this with strikers if they struggle a little bit with self-confidence and to find the space to get involved with a good defensive side.

"Of course it's not what we want and what Romelu wants but it's also not the time to laugh about him and make jokes about him."


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