Football

Chelsea lose top spot, may face Barca or PSG next

Blues throw away top spot in final group game; may face Barca or PSG next

Chelsea may have dug themselves into a hole after drawing 1-1 at home with Atletico Madrid yesterday morning (Singapore time), a result which saw them concede top spot in Group C.

The Blues had entered the final round of group matches in pole position, but the result at Stamford Bridge and Roma's 1-0 home win over Qarabag saw the Serie A side win the group by virtue of their superior head-to-head record against Chelsea.

Should Liverpool retain top place in Group E after this morning's home match with Spartak Moscow, Chelsea will meet either Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain or Besiktas in the Round of 16.

Teams from the same country cannot play each other in the first knockout phase, so the Blues can't draw group winners Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Manchester United and potentially Liverpool.

Despite the high likelihood of drawing European giants Barca or PSG, Blues boss Antonio Conte insisted his team have nothing to fear.

He said: "When you play this competition and you go through to the next round, you must be ready to face the best teams.

"In this case, we know we could play Barcelona, PSG or Besiktas.

"We must be ready. At the same time, our opponents won't be happy to play against us.

"It is a fantastic competition. We reached the next round and we must be happy with this."

But Chelsea captain Gary Cahill was adamant that his team should not even be in this position, telling the club's website: "I'm asking myself how have we not won that in the end? Nevertheless, to come from behind and draw 1-1 is okay, but like I said, we should have won."

Chelsea went a goal down to Saul Niguez's 56th-minute opener but equalised on 75 minutes when Stefan Savic put Eden Hazard's cross into his own net.

Like Cahill, Hazard felt his team should have bagged all three points, but said the Blues should not be daunted by the prospect of PSG or Barca standing in their way next.

He told BT Sport: "Their goalkeeper (Jan Oblak) was on fire. We should have scored more goals, won the game and finished first in the group but we drew...

"It's not a problem who we get, we are Chelsea.

"We know PSG and Barcelona are very good but we are a top team, too. We can do anything."

Former Liverpool and England midfielder Jamie Redknapp also believes the Blues have nothing to fear.

He told Sky Sports: "The year they won it (2012), they just about scraped through.

"They beat Napoli (in the Round of 16) and ended up winning it. I don't think it (topping the group) makes a great deal of difference...

"Chelsea shouldn't fear anyone at the moment.

"They've got players in form - (Alvaro) Morata, Hazard and Cesc Fabregas. There's a nice balance in their team.

"So, I'd be looking at it the other way. If I've got a team that's topped the group, I'd be thinking, 'Ah, we could draw Chelsea'."

However, Frank Lampard, who was in Chelsea's title-winning team of 2012, believes his former team could rue their profligacy against Atletico.

He told BT Sport: "When that draw comes out, if they get one of the bigger teams, they could look back and regret tonight."

Atletico manager Diego Simeone, meanwhile, did have regrets about their campaign.

Said the Argentinian, who led the team to two of the last four Champions League finals: "I wouldn't say it's a failure. We knew it could happen...

"Without doubt, we've paid the price for not being able to win the two games against Qarabag." - WIRE SERVICES


 

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