Friday morning's Champions League draw will define Chelsea's remaining season. There are four excellent clubs left in the knockout competition, and at this point, it's anyone's trophy to win. The draw will be held on April 11 at 11:00 BST, and a legal stream can be found at UEFA.com.
At this stage of the tournament, any of the four clubs are able to draw any of the others. There won't be multiple matches played on the same day, so television coverage won't be an issue for most. With that said, here are the three clubs that Chelsea could wind up facing:
This is easily one of the more daunting tasks that Chelsea could face, as when healthy, they probably have the best first choice unit in the world at their disposal. The front line of Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Karim Benzema is the best on the planet, while their midfield and defense are solid units as well.
Potential opponents might have some reason to smile, though, as Ronaldo might not be available for the start of the tie. While Real Madrid can still put out an unbelievable lineup without him, there's no team that won't look weaker without the best player on the planet.
Los Blancos aren't likely to sit deep and defend, and their center back pairing of Pepe and Sergio Ramos have been prone to making stupid decisions over the years. Xabi Alonso isn't the player he used to be, and Asier Illarramendi has been remarkably poor this season. While keeping Carlo Ancelotti's side from scoring could be next to impossible, it's also not hard to picture an organized counter attack tearing this unit to shreds. Luckily, this is exactly the type of team the Blues have been at their best against. Real Madrid would be an unbelievably fun matchup, though it's likely to cause heart attacks for fans on both sides.
Atletico are viewed by most to be the weakest remaining side, and would be further weakened should they draw Chelsea. Starting goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is ineligible to play against his parent club unless the La Liga side pays a substantial fee, something they've already announced that they won't be able to afford to do. There is also some injury doubt surrounding their best outfield player, as Diego Costa suffered a hamstring injury that has been keeping him from training or playing.
With that said, Atletico have been defying the odds all season, and have played some very impressive football this year. While they don't have the depth of squads like Barcelona and Real Madrid, they've managed to stay healthy enough to keep pace with both and still top the La Liga table today.
With Costa healthy, this Atletico unit probably has a better starting lineup than the one which we won the trophy with just under two years ago. They are a well balanced unit that can sit deep and defend, press high up the pitch, or do pretty much anything in between that Diego Simeone might prefer. Where Jose Mourinho would know pretty much exactly what to expect with our other potential opponents, Simeone's tactics will be far more difficult to predict.
Bayern and Chelsea have some recent history, with the Blues coming out on top when they met in the 2012 Champions League final in Munich. Bayern looked like the far better side on that particular evening, but knockout football can be a funny thing. The two were reacquainted at the beginning of the season, when the Germans got a bit of revenge in the UEFA Super Cup. Ironically, it was Chelsea that looked the better side that day, before conceding in the dying moments before losing on penalties.
Pep Guardiola's side have already clinched the Bundesliga title, though in fairness, the top of the German league was generally less impressive than it has been in the recent past. They've looked a bit more vulnerable in Europe this season than they have in recent seasons, nearly losing their group in the final game, not dominating an Arsenal side that has been fairly easy to dominate, and leaving the result in doubt for far too long against a very poor Manchester United team.
While this Bayern side looks more beatable than the squads from the past two seasons, they should still be solid favorites to advance against Chelsea over the course of two legs. It's a deep, talented squad which has been together for a long period of time, and at this point, they're looking the healthiest of the remaining sides. Combine this with the fact that they're the one remaining club with nothing to play for domestically, and Bayern Munich are probably best avoided until the final.