Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard celebrates the own goal by Atletico Madrid’s Stefan Savic
Chelsea were held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid in their final group game of the Champions League, a result that means the Blues missed out on top spot in Group C.
Consequently, they face the possibility of being drawn against Paris Saint-Germain or Barcelona in the last 16, not a pleasant prospect for a club who have struggled their way through the group phase.
Eleven points from six matches is a poor return for Chelsea, an indication of their patchy form that culminated in last night’s stalemate against Atletico.
With Roma beating Qarabag 1-0 in their final game of the group, the Italians go through to the knockout phase as group winners with Chelsea as runners-up.
Depending on how results pan out this evening in the final set of group games, Chelsea will therefore face PSG, Barcelona, Turkish side Besiktas or Sevilla when the draw is made on Monday. The last two clubs wouldn’t strike any fear into Chelsea but PSG and Barcelona are both in ominous form.
Of course, the message from Stamford Bridge was bullish last night, with Eden Hazard declaring: “It’s not a problem who we get, we are Chelsea. We know PSG and Barcelona are very good but we are a top team too. We can do anything.”
Apart from beating Atletico at home. In fact, for much of the second half it looked as if Chelsea might lose to the Spanish side after Saul Niguez had headed them into the lead on 56 minutes.
The Blues had dominated possession throughout but it wasn’t until 15 minutes from time that they finally found a goal, and even then it required Stefan Savic to put the ball into his own net.
12 teams have reached the #UCL Round of 16… Who will join them? %uD83E%uDD14
%uD83C%uDFF4%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC62%uDB40%uDC65%uDB40%uDC6E%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC7F Manchester City
%uD83C%uDFF4%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC62%uDB40%uDC65%uDB40%uDC6E%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC7F Man United
%uD83C%uDDEA%uD83C%uDDF8 Real Madrid
%uD83C%uDFF4%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC62%uDB40%uDC65%uDB40%uDC6E%uDB40%uDC67%uDB40%uDC7F Tottenham pic.twitter.com/4JA04xqsu6
— %u2605 #TeamOfTheYear %u2605 (@ChampionsLeague) December 5, 2017
Chelsea thrived last season domestically because, unlike their rivals at the top of the Premier League, they didn’t have to juggle games with European matches.
This season they are fighting on two fronts and manager Antonio Conte admitted that made life harder. “Last season we won the league but it was a surprise,” he said. “This season we are trying to do our best in the league and the Champions League… [it’s] very tough. You have to play a lot of games, then you arrive at the final stage. For this reason it can be problematic to win it.”
While there’s an element of truth to what Conte said, that doesn’t get away from the fact that the two Manchester clubs and Tottenham (grouped with Real Madrid) all qualified comfortably.
United did so last night with a 2-1 win over CSKA Moscow, the goals coming in the space of three second-half minutes from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford.
The victory meant United finished top of Group A with 15 points, three more than Basel, who won 2-0 at Benfica.
Declaring himself “really happy” with the outcome, United manager Jose Mourinho added: “I think it does not matter which team we get in the draw. I am not the luckiest guy with draws so it is better I shut up and forget it because we only play in February. Until then I have to concentrate on the English competitions.”
Last night’s Champions League results
- Benfica 0 FC Basel 2
- Manchester United 2 CSKA Moscow 1
- Celtic 0 RSC Anderlecht 1
- Bayern Munich 3 Paris Saint-Germain 1
- Chelsea 1 Atletico Madrid 1
- Roma 1 FK Qarabag 0
- Barcelona 2 Sporting Lisbon 0
- Olympiakos 0 Juventus 2
Tonight’s Champions League fixtures (7.45pm UK time)
- Liverpool vs. Spartak Moscow
- NK Maribor vs. Sevilla
- Feyenoord vs. Napoli
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Manchester City
- FC Porto vs. Monaco
- RB Leipzig vs. Besiktas
- Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
- Tottenham Hotspur vs. Apoel Nicosia