This article is part of Football FanCast’s Off the Bench series, which places in-game managerial decisions and squad selections under FFC’s microscope.
Chelsea grabbed their first win in the Champions League this season with a 2-1 victory in France against Lille and one substitution from Frank Lampard changed the game in the Blues’ favour.
Against Les Dogues, the former Derby County boss selected a 3-4-2-1 formation – also a 3-4-3 depending on how you look at it – to kick off the match.
Reece James came into the side for his first-ever start in Europe’s premier club competition as Cesar Azpilicueta moved to centre-back.
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With 67 minutes on the clock, the game was finely balanced at 1-1. It was at this point that Lampard sprung into action and made his first switch of the night. It ended up being one that changed the game.
Teenager James had a solid match, but with the Blues going in search of all three points, keeping three centre-backs made no sense.
Of course, Lampard already had another right-back on the pitch in Azpilicueta, so he decided to bring off the former Wigan Athletic loanee, move the Spain international to the flank and bring on Callum Hudson-Odoi to play further forward.
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The 18-year-old can count himself unlucky not to be included in the starting line-up at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, but he took his chance when he eventually came on. Within 11 minutes of his introduction, Chelsea had taken the lead, and Hudson-Odoi played a huge part in it.
In one brilliant moment, he displayed all the qualities a top winger needs. First, he showed the desire to take on his man, before beating him for strength when the two were shoulder-to-shoulder. Next, he stood up a fantastic ball to the back post, allowing Willian to strike towards goal. The Brazil international still had a lot to do, but he put the ball away with aplomb. In the end, it was enough to grab all three points for the Blues.
With this change, Lampard displayed his versatility to switch between formations as the game progressed.
Of course, it does help when you are able to bring on players with the quality of the England international, but it shows that the 41-year-old is learning with each passing game.
This triumph now makes it three victories in a row for the Stamford Bridge outfit. They may just be beginning to find their groove.