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Nightmare Champions league scenario

As I watched PSG coast to the quarter finals of the Champions league earlier today it occurred to me that the quarter finals this year will be full of marquee teams. Gone are the days when the quarter finals could involve two to three dark horse teams who every one else wanted to play. If we manage to do the business against Galatasaray essentially this years quarters will have only one team that all the other 7 will be hoping to draw and without a doubt that team will be the team that emerges from the ManU-Olympiakos tie. Frankly and with all due deference to ManU and Olympiakos the truth is that those two are a cut significantly less than the rest. Right now the first four are set; Barca, Bayern, PSG and Atletico Madrid. Of the remaining 4 spots we all know that two are forgone conclusions; Real and Borrussia Dortmund can essentially be penciled in. The only questions to be asked for next week are if Manu can somehow managed to score three against a very stubborn Olympiakos side while not conceding (i doubt it but time will tell) and whether we can do the expected and dispatch Galatasaray despite the presence of king Drogs and Roberto Mancini.

Without looking beyond Gala as I look at the remaining 7 potential opponents I would be lying if I said I wasn`t hoping that we end up being the lucky team that draws either ManU or Olymipiakos because none of the other teams will be anything short of an absolute battle Royal to advance. Of all the other possibilities though the one that scares me the most if the prospect of being picked to play Atletico Madrid.

This side scares the jibbers out of me and reminds of how Borussia were last year. I know that all the other 7 teams especially Real and Barca will be praying and fasting hard not to meet Atletico. They have seen enough of them in La Liga and the Copa Del rey experiences and playing Atletico whether you win, lose or draw is never fun because here is a team that is an oddity. You come away after a match aginst Atleti win,lose or draw knowing you have been in a match with bruises,scars and so=re muscles as testaments to that. This is a side that will fight you tooth and nail for the full 90 minutes of the encounter. no quarter will be given or expected. They are a La Liga team built with the discipline and work ethic of a BPL team. They are that exception in La Liga that actually know how to defend and can do it not be starving the opponent of possession ala Barca style but with the backs against the wall, defiant bunker mentality double banks of 4 system that we made famous in our own champions league run. This is a team that can park the bus with the best of them and are demons at the art of counter attacking footie. They are masters at transitioning from deep defense to attack and goals scored in a twinkle of an eye. This is a team with a deadly and complete striker on a hot streak of form in Diego Costa as well as a wily old veteran goal scorer in David Villa who despite losing a step is still a very dangerous goal scorer if underestimated. This is a team with a manager who reminds me in many ways of a younger Jose,.. Charismatic, shrewd, a master motivator and a deft man manager, a tactician per excellence and one who appreciates and understands the art and importance of defense as a football art form and a means to winning games. This side like us can play some pretty footy but are quite capable of grinding out ugly wins. Beyond all this though another serious source for concern for me if we get drawn to play Atletico is the man child Thibaut Courtois.

Honestly I don`t know what if anything the UEFA regulations have to say in this situation regarding his eligibility to play. If this had been an FA sanctioned tie since he is our player on loan to them he would be ineligible to play against us. I don`t know how this applies in the Champions league though and anyone who knows for sure should be please chime in here. IF in fact as with our ill fated supercup encounter a few years back with the Roji Blancos the choice of Thibaut`s participation in such a tie is left to us his parent club I will say it right now; we would be absolutely crazy to allow him play for them in that tie. The super cup is one thing..many view it as a glorified friendly match (I don`t happen to be one of those who hold that opinion BTW), but this is the champions league we are talking about. This is access to the Semis that would be at stake were we to be drawn against Atletico. If the choice is left to Chelsea FC by UEFA we must absolutely put the foot down and insist Thiibaut does not play in that tie because trust me against a side the quality and nature of Atletico Madrid we will need every advantage we can get.

I really could care less what the media narrative is, how Atleti whine, how Thibaut feels or how other fans would castigate our club..our first priority must be to win by any means necessary that remains within the written law and regulations. The few games this year that Thibaut could not play for Atleti because of back injury showed just how important he is to that side and how dependent they are on him. They floundered badly in those games as their back up goalie makes Fabianski of ~ 3yrs ago and Huerelho Gomez look world class. That guys gaffes cost them heavily in the Copa del Rey and in the critical losses in La Liga that saw them lose their top spot in La Liga a few weeks back. In essence thus if we have the chance and option we absolutely want that guy manning their posts rather than Thibaut and I could care less how thibaut would feel about this. We are not a charity organization but a pro footie team that is greedy for trophies and addicted to winning.

Now if as I suspect as per UEFA rules thibaut can feature against us his parent team you can be certain the guy will be super motivated and may turn in man of the match blinder performances in the two ties of the series. Jose knows how that can look as he was a first hand witness when Thibaut almost singlehandedly ensured Atleti`s Copa Del Rey Victory last year against Real at the Bernabeu. He will doubtless want to send a loud message regarding how he compares to Petr Cech and I for one have never doubted the lads ability. This is one duel i dont want to see. Frankly I don`t look forward to having to face him or that side.

Finally if by some good fortune Atleti run into a buzz saw like Bayern or PSG and meet their waterloo there I will feel sad for them but relieved that we didn`t draw them in the quarters (hoping DV that we get past Gala). The final question I have for the VC faithful is this; If we are unlucky not get the winner of the ManU-Olympiakos tie and fortunate not to draw Atleti in the quarters who would you rather have us face? PSG, Bayern, Real, Barca or Borussia Dortmund?

Call me mad but of that group honestly I would rather face Dortmund at that stage than any of the others. I don`t think we will win the Champions league this season but it would be nice to have some of the big boys paired to play each other in the quarters to clear the field before the semis. With a little luck and good fortune we could actually reach the Semis or even the finals. If we manage to get to the finals in a one off match at the neutral ground of Lisbon (which will have a home feel because of the Jose home factor) and with the 'happy one' managing us I would fancy our chances against any of these other teams but in a two legged series home and away that would be a totally different proposition. I just feel that right now we match up best against a team like Dortmund than any of the others. Your thoughts and comments are all welcome. KTBFFH!!!

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

The Journalist

Writer: GabeU Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday March 13 2014

Time: 3:30AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
I hope we get Olympiakos out them and United. I have a feeling we cant stop Atletico playing TC. IF we can, then they would be my favourite or second favourite team to come up against
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13/03/2014 03:54:00

I'll prefer we play bayern if we don't get the aforementioned teams (olympiakos/united or dortmund). They are easy to beat imo.
don delsy
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13/03/2014 05:28:00

Excellent piece gabeu,.i can remember in the event of our super cup 2012{uefa organized}, christophe lollichon{our goalkeeper trainer} had to be consulted and he was the one that gave the verdict that TC can i think the decision lies with chelsea rest assured that two of spanish contigents will have to face eachother[it happen to us & utd in 2011,ancelloti's 2nd season]..and i think we all know which spanish club uefa and platini will rather want ousted at that stage.i dont think we can play manutd{if they qualified] unless we both reach the semi-final stage..i will prefer we get psg or dortmund incase we dont get olympiacos[if they eliminate utd] or athletico.
Ige Bosun
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13/03/2014 05:51:00

anyone but Real Madrid!
HGH Magic
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13/03/2014 05:53:00

Courtois needed permission from Chelsea to play in the super cup.
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13/03/2014 06:08:00

though I really couldn't care less as the PL is my priority
HGH Magic
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13/03/2014 06:27:00

we can easily meet any team once we reach quarter final.chelsea can beat any team on there day.
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13/03/2014 06:35:00

Madrid isn't part of any team I guess....@olad.
don delsy
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13/03/2014 07:33:00

I don't care who we get just as long as we beat them! I really don't get why fans fget scared of facing teams! we are Chelsea fc we beat anyone on any day if we do it right! we have beaten baca when they were ten times as good as they are now! we beat Bayern(in there backyard) when they were and they were better under heynckes! Even if we are down to 10 men we can still beat anybody on this planet! so instead of worrying about who we will face next next lets just enjoy being Chelsea fc and I bet every single other team in this competition DOES NOT want t play us in the next round! who would we just seem to dig deeper than any team and fight for every inch of turf! we have jose who grates every other manager and team and fans to a point where they lose there cool and things start to crack. Lets enjoy the champions league and lets go out there and scare the feck out the next tea(if we o through) to death! I like the sound of Pars myself.
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13/03/2014 08:13:00

Yeah...anyone but madrid. Bayern and barca are beatable, and we will easily beat dortmund,athletico and psg over two legs...the best teams don't usually win it..coyb.
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13/03/2014 08:47:00

I'm sure bayern and barca will be seriously fasting and praying not to be drawn against us in the next round.
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13/03/2014 08:48:00

chelsea/gala vs madrid, barca vs byern, psg vs man/oly, atletico vs dortm.
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13/03/2014 08:52:00

I agree that it would be terrifying to face Atletico Madrid but if we avoid them AND we avoid Olympiakos or Man United then I'd probably fancy Dortmund too. Jose should have learned his lesson from last season and with their side not as good as last season, we can make the last four.
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13/03/2014 08:54:00

I think PSG would be a good pairing if we don't get Oly/MNU. The other teams will also be praying to avoid Chelsea. At this point if we really wanna lift the cup a record 2nd time, we should be ready to play and win against the best
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13/03/2014 09:00:00

2 would tie us with Nottingham Forest, 3 would be Man United, 4 would make us second, 5 would be equalling Liverpool and 6, goodness me we do have history!
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13/03/2014 09:23:00

Don't know if anyone agrees but I have watched the champions league games and no team has really been impressive so to be honest I'm not worried who we get
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13/03/2014 09:51:00

If you want win the league then you will have to face big teams at some point. I don't fear any team, may be because I think we don't have any realistic chance of winning it. It is a question of featuring in Semis. If we had Matic in the CL squad may be we could have done the business. Our focus should be PL. If we can progress beyonf the QF in the CL then its bonus.
Keyser Soze
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13/03/2014 12:09:00

Truism from Dave-David.
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13/03/2014 12:09:00

Btw, I wonder if any of the remaining team would be happy to play against a Mourinho led team particularly a Mourinho led CHelsea. They would also know they won't have it easy against us. Yeah I also don't get why we have to fear anyone, we have beaten every big clubs in the recent past apart from Real (we have not played them). Yeah we can respect them but fear? NO
Keyser Soze
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13/03/2014 12:12:00

You guys are overrating Athletico, we will beat them.
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13/03/2014 12:51:00

I have never been able to understand these " who I would like to play against " stories... If you wan't to succeed, you have to win the best teams out there. It really desn't matter who we draw.
Strapping Blue
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13/03/2014 12:57:00

I have a feeling we will get Real Madrid. I really don't want that to happen as they would be the most difficult team to beat imo. If I could choose it would be Dortmund too, so Jose could get a win over Klopp this time.
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13/03/2014 13:01:00

We have to beat Gala first though.. It wont be an easy match..
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13/03/2014 13:02:00

We need to get through gala and Didier first. Once that's over, yes i have thought about Manu -olympiacos winner as an opponent. And yes I am wary of A. Madrid. >>>>>>>>>>All in all fine piece as usual from @gabeu. Agree with everything!
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13/03/2014 13:30:00

Some things remain the same though, shocking refereeing and red cards involved when Barca are playing. You know how the script goes then!! smh!
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13/03/2014 14:46:00

If we get through I wouldn't fancy Real, Barca, PSG or Bayern in the QF - although Bayern couldn't beat us in August (the only game they seemed to actually score penalties!) I really think we should be beating Dortmund, Man U/Oly or A. Madrid. Semi final against PSG and Jose beats Real in the final in Portugal. Easy!!!!!
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13/03/2014 14:46:00

I don't fear any of the teams left in the competion, but would really prefer not to have the distraction of a comparitively stronger team to take the focus away from the premier league.
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13/03/2014 14:56:00

Spot Gabe U...... I fear A. Madrid with the way they play football. whether hard or skillful, technical or one way, aesthetic or stoke style..... they are comfortable with either evidenced by the way the stepped up their physical aspect in the second half against AC Milan...
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13/03/2014 15:50:00

I hope we make it through and draw Barca, but that's just me.
Pavel Permiachkin
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13/03/2014 16:46:00

Or Real Madrid for that matter. Screw both of those teams and I rather us get them out of CL early or us exit the CL early. Our PL title is at stake here and I don't want the CL to hinder it if we won't win the CL league. Screw the semi's or the finals even if we don't win it and it hinders our PL trophy. So right off the bat RM or Barca please.
Pavel Permiachkin
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13/03/2014 16:53:00

After reading this article, i feel we are in desperate need of a counter article that will breed confidence in us as to why our darling chelsea is the nightmare of most teams around the world! Very good article gabeu as usual and it's great to acknowledge what a team Athletico have become and how they can grind out result. But do you need me to remind you of which team grinds out result better than any other?? which team went goal 2 goals down away to barca and came back to equalize and qualifiy?? Which team went all the way to the allianz arena to coincidentally play the team that owns the arena and yet send them through a deafening silence and loud tears by lifting the cup in their backyard?? If courtois will be super motivated then Cech will also be super motivated to show the world why he is the legend that he is. I totally understand your points and yea courtois shouldn't be allowed to play but this article gives too much respect to athletico and i don't like it. Cheers.
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13/03/2014 18:16:00

And yea i would fancy meeting any team besides Real Madrid
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13/03/2014 18:17:00

Kindred spirits kola, you & I; my thoughts exactly!!!!!!!! Top comment! [Bayern]...yet send them through a deafening silence and loud tears by lifting the cup in their backyard?? ...this article gives too much respect to athletico and I don't like it. Cheers. 1001 Likes <''>
HGH Magic
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13/03/2014 18:33:00

couldn't have put it any better myself! But bro, I guess it's idiosyncratic of GabeU to always see things from the cynical or 'sky-is-falling' perspective; think he's more of a half-empty than a half-full kinda guy. Thus I've come to expect articles like this from GabeU. Remember "Dark Clouds Gathering" recently? ;)
HGH Magic
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13/03/2014 18:42:00

If we past Gala, I can see us paring Olypiacos
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13/03/2014 19:01:00

lolll thanks HGH. I'm glad someone shares my view and yea its very typical of gabeu (who by the way is a top writer) this kind of article so he can be forgiven ;)
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13/03/2014 19:52:00

@kolagold..i understand where you are coming from and respect your views on this issue though i may not agree with them. HGH is right that i am by nature a cynic and that my being a realist makes me far less inclined to hyperbole as far as evaluating situations. Needless to say we all love Chelsea FC. I will as happy (and probably even happier than most) as every one of you if my penned observations regarding atletico end up being way overblown and we end up meeting them and we pulverize them 7-0 on aggregate but i just dont see it. My point is i feel they will be the toughest match up for us. Honestly as i said in the latter part of the piece in a single game like a final with Jose at the helm i feel we can beat anyone of these teams but the realist in me feels that right now Real, PSG and Bayern are better teams and would beat us in a 2 legged affair. As regards barca there is no doubt those guys dont want to see us..for whatever reason we are the one side in europe who have this knack of always being their bogey team. If we draw them again i would not at all be surprised if we beat them again on aggregate. They are not anywhere close to as good as they were when we beat them before. They beat City because the tom foolery of Demichellis and poor near post goal keeping by Joe Hart while City suddenly lost their famous scoring boots. I doubt they will be so lucky if they meet up with us. Pavel raises the point of the Champions league maybe being a distraction to our BPL pursuit and thus wants us to play Real right away, probably lose and be done with it. I disagree..there is nothing more exhilarating than winning and few things more deflating than losing. I happen to think that going far in the champions league and beating some big names in the process will energize our boys, grow their confidence and thus help their BPL form. A quick exit..for example against Gala would be very demoralizing i think. It will be interesting for example to see what impact the loss to Barca has on City especially soon after their loss to Wigan. Time will tell.
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13/03/2014 19:57:00

No GabeU it is not "play Real Madrid and probably lose". I am speaking in the sense of if we win the CL we should be able to beat any team left now and lets say we fave Madrid regardless in the semis or in the finals them selves. Well why not just dive into the toughest opposition from the get go so we know where our priorities are. What does it matter if we lose to Madrid in the quarter, semi or final? Yet if we beat them now that is a big burden out of the way. Just my take on it we either are the best or we aren't, at the same time BPL is totally achievable.
Pavel Permiachkin
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13/03/2014 20:32:00

@Pavel I understand your points but if we get to the semis or finals instead of losing at quaterfinals is very important from an economic and fanbase point of view. So I would prefer we get Olympiacos, ManUtd or Dortmund in the next round (again, if we eliminate Gala, no disrespect) and have a greater chance to move on to the next phase. @Kola agree with you 100%.. I feel Atletico is a very good team and they remind me of Chelsea in a way, but they should fear us more than we fear them. I've heard on interviews that the way Cholo Simeone prepares matches is very detailed and thorough, and recently he said he prefers Mou to Guardiola in a tv show. I think he learned a lot from Mou while he was in Spain, and the way he's fighting for La Liga with a lesser budget against the two giants is laudable. Definately if we play them, NO Courtois. @GabeU very good article.
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13/03/2014 22:13:00

Til now there's only one blip in Simeone's career.. It was with River Plate. One year he made them champions of the Argentinian First Division, the next they finished last and they sacked him. But since he went to Spain I think he learned a lot and improved. I think he learned from Mou and the way Atletico reminds me of Chelsea is not a surprise...
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13/03/2014 22:17:00

Hi Gabeu, yea i truly believed City had the weapons to cause barca unrest but the utilization of what they have wasn't effectively applied by the Engineer. I don't seems to understand why you believe PSG is a better team than us though? if you think PSG, Madrid and Bayern are better teams and also believe we might not be able to get past athletico, then am forced to ask you, 'how much do you really rate this chelsea team??'. Though from your analysis above it doesn't spell a good a rating. Need i remind you the only reason we lost 4-1 to them in the super cup is because our team never wanted to believe they are that good. But i know the chelsea i support, if we happen to muster some motivation against a team that we know likes to go toe to toe and grind out result, that team will hardly get past us. This chelsea team i must say is well euipped to handle athletico.
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14/03/2014 07:27:00

^Yeah Kola for some reason from what I said it was taken as if I want Chelsea to lose next round and thats not it at all. I value Chelsea and believe it or not I don't like overly ducking teams to somehow progress in a tourny when we know in the semis or the finals this toughest of tough opposition will be there, it is inevitable. Our BPL run is hanging in there and like I said if we beat a top team in CL right off the bat we know CL is really possible and we can do both, on the other hand if we lose to a top team next well tough luck it isn't like we weren't inevitably going to face them anyway. I personally love it every time we knock Barca out of CL as early as possible before the finals.
Pavel Permiachkin
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14/03/2014 12:47:00


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