Frank Lampard admits that Thiago Silva needs to play a key leadership role in Chelsea’s Champions League run after seeing his side draw Atletico Madrid in the last-16.
Now the 36-year-old wears the captain’s armband for Lampard’s side, with regular skipper Cesar Azpilicueta increasingly finding himself on the bench.
In being one of the few experienced players signed by Chelsea in recent times, Lampard admits that he will lean on his Brazil international to lead the group through any potential run in the competition.
“He’ll be very important and he’s not the only one,” Lampard told reporters ahead of a trip to Wolves on Tuesday. “Other players have got Champions League experience in what’s without a doubt the top club competition in world football.
“It requires concentration and focus as well as talent levels because it is so intense. Players that have been there and done it – Thiago was the captain in a final not long ago – will be able to pass on experience and be very aware of those levels over two legs against a team as experienced as Atletico.”
The draw with Atleti was described as the toughest one possible by Lampard, as they occupy second position in La Liga with two games in hand over table-toppers Real Sociedad.
Chelsea faced Diego Simeone’s outfit in the group stage in 2017 and were knocked out by his side in the semi-final in 2014. Having fought so hard to qualify for the competition last season, Lampard is excited to pit himself against one of the world’s most respected managers.
“I like a team which is the image of their manager and I think he’s certainly proven that over the years he’s been there with the discipline of the team, how they are very strong with their game plan,” he added.
“When you watch them, you understand the way they play. You could watch them on TV, turn the colour off and you would still understand that Atletico Madrid are playing. They are very sure in the way that they play.
“They have quality players around that as well and the manager has driven that club for a lot of years, so they are a very confident and experienced European outfit.”
Chelsea’s appearance in the latter stages of the Champions League comes in a season where a £220 million ($275m) summer spend on new signings has seen the club grow in stature.
A recent defeat to Everton ended a 17-game unbeaten run in all competitions, but Lampard’s side have been tipped to compete for honours across the board.
Lampard himself, meanwhile, has continued to play down his side’s chances, particularly in the Premier League, but he admits that the points total to win the title will likely be lower this season.
“That’s just where we’re at this season, you’ve seen the results,” he said. “We felt it first-hand at the weekend at Everton. They’ve got good players; they invested in the squad, are well organised and made it difficult for us.
“Watching the games yesterday, you saw that all over the place. The league is getting tighter for whatever reason. Teams are strengthening, they’re well organised. I felt that our preparations ahead of the season were slightly different, so we see ourselves as a bit of a work in progress.
Source : goal.com