Champions League: Chelsea on Bayern alert in last-16 draw

10 December 2021 23:51:14 GMTPlus10
Robert Lewandowski is in prime form for Bayern Munich again this season

Chelsea have achieved the first part of a successful title defence by qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League, but failure to win their group could hand them a potentially brutal tie when the last-16 draw is made on Monday.

Thomas Tuchel's men had top spot in Group H sewn up when leading 3-2 at Zenit deep into injury time on Wednesday evening.

However, Magomed Ozdoyev's last-gasp equaliser changed everything, enabling Juventus - 1-0 winners over Malmo - to leapfrog the Blues at the head of the section and leave the reigning championss sweating over who they are paired with in the next phase.

Had Chelsea been seeded for Monday's draw the potential stage two options looked favourable.

Instead, they can now only be drawn against four teams and two of them are Bayern Munich (12121/1) and Real Madrid (6/4), so it's little wonder Tuchel's men have drifted to 12121/1 in the outright betting.

Tuchel's champs looking for Lille comfort

Chelsea's late slip-up in Russia is hardly a disaster, but it's clear that it's put them on edge ahead of the draw.

The rules state that in round two teams cannot be paired with the club who accompanied them out of their group, or any team from the same association.

And since the Premier League's other trio - the Manchester clubs and Liverpool - all won their groups, it means Chelsea's options are limited.

Of the four sides they can face, it's clear the one they will want to avoid is Bayern, predictably spectacular in qualifying with six wins out of six, 22 goals scored, of which Robert Lewandowski bagged nine.

Real, not the force they were but steaming clear of the pack in La Liga, would be second on Tuchel's wishlist of who he'd rather not have to play in the next round.

The market, however, rates Ajax - another potential obstacle - every bit as highly after they too went through the group stage with a 100 per cent record, raising the profiles of all their young stars and head coach Erik ten Hag - they were 100/1 picks at the off, but are now 12121/1.

And that leaves Lille as the fourth and final team Chelsea could meet in the round of 16 and surely Tuchel's opponents of choice.

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England expects, despite Chelsea's route change

The other negative of not winning the group, of course, is that Chelsea will have to play the second leg of their round-of-16 tie away, hardly a colossal imposition, but a challenge that could have been avoided had they kept their concentration for just a few minutes more in St Petersburg.

Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool have been spared that inconvenience courtesy of winning their groups and notionally should go into the draw feeling a little more bullish than Chelsea, but pitfalls await.

City, 6/5 to go one better than last year and finally lift the trophy, will at least avoid Paris Saint-Germain - 12121/1 chances and the pick of the group runners-up - having qualified alongside the Frenchmen.

Equally, Liverpool (8/15) can forget about the Group B rivals they pipped, Atletico Madrid. Atleti might not be quite the force they once were and rode their luck getting through, but Diego Simeone's unit still take all the shifting in the knockout phase.

Both PSG and Atletico will be on United's radar, while all three of the English sides will probably want to give Inter Milan a miss.

Much will happen between now and February 15th when the competition resumes, with form swings and a transfer window to get through, but as it stands it's 4/5 that, for the third time in four years, an English club triumphs.

Who the Premier League teams can draw

Manchester City
Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon, Inter Milan, Benfica, Villarreal, Red Bull Salzburg.

Paris Saint-Germain, Sporting Lisbon, Inter Milan, Benfica, Villarreal, Red Bull Salzburg.

Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, Sporting Lisbon, Inter Milan, Benfica, Red Bull Salzburg.

Ajax, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Lille.

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