Chelsea will discover their route to the Champions League final this morning and every Blues supporter will have attempted to map out the most-favourable draw – on paper at least – possible for Thomas Tuchel and his players.
The Blues have reached the last eight for the first time since 2014 having recorded an impressive 3-0 victory against Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16. Tuchel’s side dispatched the La Liga leaders with minimal fuss over two legs and, understandably, expectation is growing among the Chelsea fanbase that the club can go deep into this season’s competition.
That could be dampened by the outcome of today’s draw, although given Chelsea are unbeaten since Tuchel’s appointment and have kept 11 clean sheets in 13 matches, very few sides will find the prospect of facing the Blues an enticing one.
So what would be considered the best-case scenario for Chelsea when the names are pulled out pots in Nyon this morning?
On paper, Porto would be the most-favourable opponent the Blues could face in the quarter-finals. The Portuguese side dumped Juventus out at the Round of 16 stage but have endured an inconsistent campaign in the Primeira Liga, where they sit ten points behind leaders Sporting.
A potential clash with Real Madrid in the last eight would also give Chelsea a good chance to progress. Of course, the Spanish side have a great tradition of success in European competition but they haven’t quite had the same allure this term and weren’t overly impressive over two legs against Atalanta in the previous round.
As for the clubs Chelsea will undoubtedly want to avoid, Bayern Munich are at the top of the list. The Blues faced the German side in last season’s Champions League and were ruthlessly picked apart, exciting the competition at the last-16 stage after a 7-1 defeat on aggregate.
Paris Saint-Germain would also be difficult for Chelsea to navigate and there would also been the added narrative around Tuchel. The German coach started the season in charge of the Ligue 1 giants but was sacked in December.
While he has an intimate knowledge of the PSG squad’s strengths and weaknesses, the flipside is the Parisian’s players also know full well the tactical principles that Tuchel imbues a side with.
Chelsea would also, of course, almost certainly like to avoid their follow English sides.
Manchester City are in excellent form under Pep Guardiola while the Blues have enough experience of facing Liverpool in the Champions League to know that no tie against the Reds in Europe is easy.