The draw for the last 16 (I won’t call it the Round of 16 for love, money or even a promise that the Blues will win the Champions League!) has been made and Chelsea have been rewarded for topping their group with a relatively easy tie against Galatasaray.
It’s hard to say what exactly is and isn’t a good tie but Jose Mourinho will probably be glad to have avoided both Bayer Leverkusen and AC Milan and, with the advantage of playing the home leg second, the Pensioners have a great chance to progress.
Gala are no mugs and have some top players, not least of course a certain Didier Drogba, with whom Mourinho got his wish to be reunited here. It will be no easy task to win through to the quarter finals but on balance the extra experience and class of the Pensioners should be enough to see them ease past a side that somehow finished ahead of Juventus in Group B.
The bookmakers make Chelsea firm favourites to see off the Turks, with Mourinho and co priced at 2/7 to advance, compared to 7/2 for Drogba and his colleagues. That looks about right and given Real Madrid beat Galatasaray 6-1 in Istanbul and 4-1 in Spain it should be relatively comfortable for the Blues.
Mourinho will be sure to guard against complacency but all Chelsea fans will fully expect their side to get the job done, despite the stuttering nature of the campaign thus far. The sides met in this competition in 1999 at the group stage, Chelsea winning 1-0 at the Bridge and a highly impressive 5-0 in Istanbul and whilst such a comprehensive victory seems unlikely here it would be a major surprise if the Blues were eliminated.
Elsewhere, Man United got the best draw of the lot, David Moyes’ side set up to play Olympiakos, whilst Arsenal and Man City were duly punished for failing to top their respective groups, earning daunting ties against Bayern Munich and Barcelona respectively. The draw is completed by AC Milan v Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen v Paris St-Germain, Schalke v Real Madrid and Zenit St Petersburg v Dortmund.
The draw has had relatively little impact on any side’s overall prospects of winning the Champions League and whilst the Blues have a great chance of making the next round, to win the tournament they are still going to have to beat at least two and possibly three of the top, top sides in Europe.
Bayern Munich are probably a step ahead of the rest, with the Spanish giants Real and Barca behind them and then a group of around six teams who will all need to improve and probably have a good slice of luck too if they are to deliver. Of course, any team in the competition has a chance to win it but by the quarter finals we are likely to have seven great teams (and Man United!) left and making the semis is going to be tough, even for a side that can boast Mourinho’s great record in Europe’s premier competition.