On March the 7th, Chelsea provided their best performance of the season with a 2-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund at Stamford Bridge. Heading into the second leg of their round of sixteen tie against the German giants, The Blues had to overturn a 1-0 deficit if they wished to progress to the quarterfinals. Goals from Raheem Sterling and a Kai Havertz penalty were enough to secure a 2-0 victory on the night and 2-1 victory on aggregate, securing safe passage to the last eight. As such, oddschecker, which compares European football odds and offers, now makes Graham Potter’s side one of the favourites for the crown this season.
There can be no denying that things have been tough for Potter since he arrived in London back in September. The Blues faithful were stunned when their Champions League-winning manager Thomas Tuchel was sacked following a disappointing start to the current campaign. No one wanted to see the German tactician given his marching orders, and even less could have imagined that a former Swedish fourth-tier manager would be appointed in his place.
Throughout the months of January and February, Chelsea scored just four goals in 11 games in all competitions. And of those 11 games, they managed to pick up just one victory. To add to that, the club also spent an eye-watering £323m on new signings in January, more than La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 clubs combined. But back-to-back victories over Leeds in the Premier League and now Borussia Dortmund on the continental stage could show signs of a resurgence at Stamford Bridge.
Bearing An Eerie Resemblance to 2012
Back in 2012, Chelsea finally reached the mountaintop when they won their first-ever UEFA Champions League crown. We all remember Fernando Torres rounding Victor Valdes in the Nou Camp to send The Blues to the final. We all remember Didier Drogba’s last-gasp equaliser against Bayern Munich in the Allianz Arena showpiece, and the Ivorian striker’s winning goal in the penalty shootout. But what many won’t remember is that the Stamford Bridge club had a similarly turbulent season that campaign.
That year, new manager André Villas-Boas was sacked as head coach in March following a 1-0 defeat away at West Bromwich Albion. He too had a squad that required an overhaul, however, his younger stars let him down badly. In his place came club legend Roberto Di Matteo on an interim basis, and he immediately restored the old guard to the starting eleven. Captain John Terry, vice-captain Frank Lampard and reliable striker Didier Drogba all returned to the first-team fold despite being on the ‘wrong’ side of 30. They immediately repaid their manager’s faith in them by securing the first UEFA Champions League crown in the club’s history, as well as picking up the FA Cup for good measure.
The Current Campaign
This season, Graham Potter may also return to the old guard as the season progresses. He immediately restored Raheem Sterling to the first team and he repaid him with a goal against Dortmund. N’Golo Kanté and Mason Mount are both set to return from injuries shortly, and you can expect them back in the starting eleven as soon as they are available. Megamoney signing Mykhaylo Mudryk has already been dropped to the bench following a string of unimpressive displays. And it is Potter’s experienced heads that may well lead him to glory this term.
With Chelsea sitting down in tenth place in the Premier League and eliminated from the FA Cup, the Champions League is the only competition that they have a realistic opportunity of winning this season. And luckily for them, the draw is wide open.
Continental heavyweights Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, and Juventus were all eliminated in the group stages. Two of Real Madrid vs Liverpool and Bayern Munich vs Paris Saint-Germain will also be eliminated in the round of sixteen. Benfica are already one of the quarterfinalists, and two of Tottenham Hotspur vs AC Milan and FC Porto vs Inter Milan will also progress to the last eight. The competition is opening up nicely for The Blues, but can they grasp the opportunity with both hands?