They couldn’t do it again, could they?
Chelsea have developed a bit of a habit for winning the Champions League when they have absolutely no right to. In 2012, Roberto Di Matteo oversaw the most unthinkable of continental conquests which culminated with the defeat of Bavarian behemoths Bayern Munich in their own backyard.
The Blues then became two-time Champions League victors in 2021 when Thomas Tuchel, who’d only succeeded Frank Lampard as manager just months prior, inspired the west London outfit to victory over Man City in Porto.
Two years on from that triumph and Chelsea are yet again in a position to pull off the unlikely in Europe. The Blues were in a state of bordeline disarray ahead of their round of 16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund, but they produced their best performance of the Graham Potter era so far to advance into the last eight.
They’ve certainly got the talent to enjoy a deep run, but you suspect they might have to benefit from a couple of kind draws if they’re to have a chance of repeating the feats of 2012 and 2021.
Chelsea’s Champions League campaign began with Tuchel at the helm, but the German was dismissed in the wake of the Blues’ defeat at Dinamo Zagreb on Matchday 1.
Thus, Potter has been in charge for much of their European venture and the majority of his good work has arrived in the Champions League. Chelsea beat Milan twice and enjoyed an unbeaten run to conclude the group which saw them progress into the round of 16 as group winners.
They were drawn against Borussia Dortmund in the first knockout round; a tie that seemed evenly balanced. The German side have been in red-hot form in 2023, and they deepened Potter’s woes by beating Chelsea 1-0 in the first leg. The Blues were unfortunate, however, and they were similarly dominant in the reverse fixture. Only this time, they were rewarded for their supremacy.
Goals from Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz helped Chelsea into a 2-0 lead at Stamford Bridge. Dortmund then threatened a resurgence with Jude Bellingham coming close, but the hosts managed the game superbly in the closing stages to keep the visitors at bay.
It’s pretty tough across the board in terms of potential quarter-final opponents. However, if there is a kind draw to be had, that would be AC Milan. Chelsea thumped them twice in the group stage, and the Rossoneri hardly had to be extraordinary to overcome Tottenham in the last 16.
Benfica, on the surface, would seem to be a nicer draw, but Roger Schmidt’s side have already upset a couple of big boys this term and they won’t fear anybody in the quarter-finals. This Benfica outfit is one of the best to come out of Portugal in years.
The majority of the favourites remain in the competition, and Chelsea will be hoping to avoid the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid (who will surely advance at Liverpool’s expense) and Man City (who should overcome RB Leipzig). Napoli are similarly excellent, but the Blues’ superior experience and fetish for the big occasion could pay dividends should those two sides meet in the last eight.
Here’s a list of Chelsea’s potential quarter-final opponents: