As the final whistle blew at Stamford Bridge in our final group game against Atletico Madrid which ended in a 1-1 draw, the reactions from Chelsea fans portrayed doom. The news of Roma’s 1-0 win over Qarabag meant they topped the group ahead of Antonio Conte’s team. The potentiality of being handed a difficult draw was of great concern to the Chelsea fans, but in reality it could end up being a blessing in disguise.
CHELSEA SUCCEED ON TO RETURN EUROPE ELITES STAGE:
The fact Chelsea finished second in our group was the worst case scenario expected at the start of the season when the draws were made. Our yearlong absence from not participating in Europe’s elite competition as a result of suffering from a ‘Mourinho failed season’ demanded we make most of the opportunity we have now. Better than not, we’ve advanced to the knockout stages with our hopes still very much alive for Champions league glory.
CHELSEA STILL REMAIN ENGLAND’S BEST-PLACED TEAM TO WIN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE:
Another positive from finishing second in our group is that regardless of our position, we still remain England’s best-placed team to win the Champions league this season. History records us as the last English team to win the trophy in 2012 and the most consistent in terms of performances in the competition over the years. This is enough positive to boost our confidence.
WE’RE NOT LEFT OUT AND STAND A GREATER CHANCE:
We’re not the only big club that failed to top their group, and so, we are not left out. The pool of big clubs that failed to top their groups include: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Sevilla. For Chelsea, we have a straight forward draw to look out for as we can’t play any English team according to UEFA’s laws. So there are only 3 possible opponents for us: Besiktas, Barcelona and PSG. Turkish club are dark horses, while PSG and Barca are familiar foes for Chelsea. We’re no pushovers, and they all too will be afraid to draw Chelsea.
THE DECISIVE, BUT DENIED HOME TIE:
One of the positive of being a group winner is that you have the luxury of playing your second knockout match at home. It gives the opportunity to build an advantage in the away fixture and finally seal the result at home. Chelsea will need to play their best, especially at home, and then look to nick a result away from home to stand of going farther than expected in the competition.
THERE ARE NO UNDERDOGS IN THE COMPETITION:
The alarm bells have rung severally as shock results have been seen. Qarabag’s giant-killing feats against Atletico Madrid was alarming, Monaco were dumped out of the competition, Besiktas topped their group, Spurs bossed Real Madrid over two legs and Shaktar Donetsk defeated City. Many more are to come, so the days of underrating an opponent are long gone. Every team made it to the knockout stage on merit and as we know, when the going gets tough, the tough needs to get going. That is exactly what Chelsea should do.
Chelsea’s path to Champions league glory might look tough because the calibre of teams are heavyweights, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable. We can still pull off a surprise and win the Champions League again.
Let’s hope for the best. Cheers!