Thursday, April 18News That Matters

Rio Ferdinand advises Reece James after Real Madrid struggle

Rio Ferdinand has urged Reece James to ‘prove he belongs’ at the top after the Chelsea star endured a chastening experience in the Champions League defeat against Real Madrid.

Madrid hardly had to get out of second gear as they eased to a 2-0 quarter-final first leg win courtesy of goals from Benzema and Marco Asensio.

Chelsea did well to avoid a huge defeat in light of the dismissal of Ben Chilwell who was given his marching orders after a professional foul on Rodrygo just shy of the hour mark.

James struggled to exert any influence on the match as an attacking force and was given a tough time by Real winger Vinicius Junior who had the beating of his opponent on several occasions.

Ferdinand believes the 23-year-old would have been upset at his display but has advised him to use his time wisely between now and the return leg at Stamford Bridge.

He told BT Sport: ‘The important thing is he has to take that personally. As a defender there’s pride and you know everyone is watching.

‘There’s millions watching, let alone in this stadium. You go home and you analyse your performance. You get in there with the analysts and say give me my clips I want to see exactly what happened, where did I see the points where I got it wrong today?

‘What was my approach? Did I soften my knees on my approach, was I going in too upright, was I going in too quick and not putting the breaks on.

‘Go through it with a fine tooth comb. Then it’s about me vs you next week, gaffer make sure I’m one vs one with him and I’m going to prove to the world I can deal with people at this level because that’s what it’s about.’

Frank Lampard selected a back five in order to contain the threat of the Brazil international and admitted the 22-year-old would present a problem for any defender in football

‘Partly the reason,’ said Lampard when asked if his system was designed to stop Vinicius’ influence. ‘I think I had different things to consider.

‘Vinicius one-against-one is a big problem for any team so we wanted to created two-against-ones on that side of the pitch. It didn’t help getting the yellow card for Fofana so early, it makes you nervous. He’s a player that is very good.

‘With a back five, you want to not be a back five as much as you can and we tried to enforce that. When we have the ball we want to be a three, we want to use the width of the pitch. As I mentioned, we could have done that a bit better, it was a weapon for us to use today.

‘Get the ball out of pressure, get it to the side. In terms of the system, the thinking was very clear to negate threats but to give us an in possession control of the game which we could have done more.’

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