Chelsea are one of a record-breaking five Premier League teams in the last 16 of the Champions League, but the Blues are unique among the five in advancing as group runners-up rather than group winners. This puts us into a bit of pickle as not only will Chelsea have to play the Round of 16’s second leg away from home, there are also very limited options with regards to which teams the Blues can be drawn against. Since UEFA rules prevent teams from the same country getting drawn against each other (as well as teams from the same group in the group stage), Chelsea have only three potential opponents for the first knockout round: Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona and Besiktas.
There is clearly a favorable draw to be had here, and that’s the one that Gary Cahill is hoping for. It’s certainly a reasonable hope to have.
“To get to and win the final, of course we have to beat the best teams. But let’s not lie as well, let’s hope we dodge them and progress."
“You expect to see the very, very big teams later on. At this stage of the competition, those that qualify are top teams - you can’t dodge anyone too much - but I hope the draw is a good one for us.”
-Gary Cahill; source: London Evening Standard
Incidentally, due to the vagaries of the draw, getting Barcelona is more likely (due to the presence of two other Spanish teams as group runners-up) than either PSG or Besiktas. Runners-up are drawn first out of the bowl, before all eligible opponents are placed and drawn from the second bowl. You can simulate your own drawn on this website — we did it twice, getting Besiktas once and Barcelona the other time.
Aquí tenéis TODAS LAS PROBABILIDADES de TODOS LOS ENFRENTAMIENTOS que se pueden dar en el sorteo de 1/8 de UCL que se celebrará el lunes. Es el SORTEO MÁS CONDICIONADO EN LA HISTORIA del torneo: Chelsea sólo tiene 3 rivales posibles y un 44% de opciones de jugar contra el Barça. pic.twitter.com/J0kMSjvd4E— MisterChip (Alexis) (@2010MisterChip) December 6, 2017
One person who won’t be paying much mind to draw simulators or perhaps even the draw itself on Monday (11am GMT) is Eden Hazard, who embodies the classic Chelsea carefree attitude instead.
"It’s not a problem, we are Chelsea, a top team. We can face anyone. We know PSG and Barcelona are very good but we are Chelsea so we have to be ready for everything."
-Eden Hazard; source: Chelsea FC
That's the spirit!
Along similar lines, Antonio Conte is ready to for whatever comes next as well. We would expect nothing less.
“We know we could play against Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Besiktas. When you play this competition and go through to the next round, you must be ready to face the best teams. This is a fantastic competition. If you want to go through and be a protagonist in this tournament, you must be ready to face every team.
“At the same time our opponent won’t be happy to play against us. We will see what happens.
“I remember during the European Championships with the national team, we [Italy] finished first in our group and we played against Spain, and then against Germany, and then if we beat Germany we would have to play France. Sometimes it’s not important.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
The draw will be held on Monday, December 11 at 12pm CET in Switzerland, with the first legs set to be played in mid-February.