Chelsea’s failure to win Champions League group means a tricky last sixteen clash is now likely
Antonio Conte was in a defiant mood after Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid which means that the Blues went through to the Champions League last sixteen stage as runners-up.
Roma’s 1-0 win away to Qarabag means that Chelsea can only face three opponents at the last sixteen stage providing that Liverpool win their Champions League group.
The Blues would clearly love to face Besiktas out of the three teams likely to be available to them, although it’s more likely that they will meet either Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona.
It explains why William Hill free bets are prepared to chalk up 20/1 about the London side going all the way in the European Cup, with Conte bracing himself for a tough fixture in the knockout phase.
The Italian claims that no team will want to draw them, although the Blues have been shaky in the competition thus far, losing 3-0 away to Roma after a 3-3 draw against the Italian side at Stamford Bridge.
“When you go through to the next round in this competition, you must be prepared to face the best teams,” Conte said. “So we must be ready. This is the best tournament. That’s why you want to go through and try to be a protagonist in this tournament. At the same time, our opponents won’t be happy to play against us, so we’ll see what happens.
“I remember during the European Championship in 2016 with the national team we finished first in our group and played against Spain, then Germany and, if we’d beaten Germany, we’d have had to play France. Sometimes it’s not so important [to finish first]. We reached the next round and we must be happy with this. After a performance like this, the coach must be [happy].”
Despite losing 3-1 away to Bayern Munich, PSG went through as group winners thanks to a favourable head-to-head record and they are 15/4 with Ladbrokes to win this season’s competition.
Manchester City are 9/2 chances, with Real Madrid 5/1 and Barcelona 6/1.
All odds were correct at time of posting.