Fine Wine

Chelsea can complicate Man Utd manager hunt as they look to avenge £35m transfer mistake – Jai McIntosh

After the 3-3 draw against Zenit Saint Petersburg on Wednesday night and Juventus beating Malmo 1-0 to jump to the top, Chelsea had the possible seven teams they can face cut down to four with all four English sides progressing as group winners and we cant face Juventus.

This leaves Chelsea with potential fixtures against Ajax, Bayern Munich, Lille, or Real Madrid.

Question is, who do we want them to get? Here at CareFree Chelsea, we have each made our case for who we would like to see Thomas Tuchel’s men come up against when the competition resumes in February.

The UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw is scheduled for 11:00 am (UK time) today. It will be streamed live on the official Champions League website and BT Sports.

Scott Clayton – Ajax

As a youth enthusiast, I’ve looked at Ajax as a fantastic model of how to run a club the way I’d like it to be done. I love how they have a set way of doing things and no manager coming in can really change what Ajax is about.

The manager is tasked with getting the best out of said players in the roles and the academy is built on progressing youngsters to fit into the men’s senior way of playing that never really changes.

The fact they’ve had so much success over the years in progressing world-class talent is obviously the main thing that grabbed my eye years ago.

This might be one of the harder teams to get in all honesty, with Ajax winning all six matches in their group beating Dortmund back to back to knock them out, scoring 20 goals in the six games and conceding just five. They currently also sit top of the Eredivisie after 15 matches scoring 48 and conceding just two goals.

The two teams faced each other for the first time in 2019 in the Champions League group stages when we beat them 1-0 then drew 4-4 at home in that memorable match where Hakim Ziyech sold us a dream.

The main man for Ajax is currently former West Ham misfit Sebastien Haller, who has already bagged himself ten goals in this seasons Champions League and 19 goals in his 21 league appearances.

The fact Ajax are doing so well makes me want to face them. A team that sets up to play one way and one way only and attack will help Chelsea in my opinion.

No matter who Chelsea get drawn against, their next Champions League opponent will prove to be tough
No matter who Chelsea get drawn against, their next Champions League opponent will prove to be tough

Renuka Odedra – Ajax

This choice by no means is a cop-out to say the Dutch side will be an easy one to face out of the four picks Chelsea could come up against. But, it’s the one side that will be exciting to watch and that’s what the Champions League is about – knockout football that is just good to watch.

Both sides are similar in the sense that they have a team full of young talent. Although that has only been recently the case, it’s been the DNA of Ajax and the very way they operate. They’re going to be underdogs in many ways if they are drawn against Chelsea.

So, it’s Ajax for me.

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Jai McIntosh – Lille

Lille have been one of the most interesting teams to watch from a distance over the last two seasons. They have a squad that is littered with talented players at both ends of the age spectrum and they have gone from being the slayers of PSG’s League title monopoly to mid-table and then to the top of their Champions League group. As I said, very interesting.

Their squad features both Renato Sanches and Jonathan David, arguably the brightest talents in the team. Add to this Sven Botman, Tiago Djalo, Timothy Weah, Angel Gomes and the Jonathan duo of Bamba and Ikone and you have the hallmarks of a quality side.

These talented youngsters combine nicely with the more senior players in the squad, most specifically Benjamin Andre who, in typical French style, is ageing like a fine wine as is Jose Fonte.

Having topped Group G, a relatively weaker group in general but equally challenging in the sense that any of the four teams could have finished top, Lille will be extremely happy with their performances. Domestically they are expected to improve, but there is plenty of time for that.

The reason I want Chelsea to face Lille is, and with all due respect, because they are the weakest team Chelsea can face. Currently, Chelsea are in a Liverpool-esque injury crisis right now and a slightly more welcoming draw is exactly what the team and the fans need at this moment in time. Get the job done and move on, that is all that is needed.

Make sure you have subscribed to CareFree Chelsea on YouTube! The Fan Brands team along with plenty of your favourites will be producing daily Chelsea content for you to enjoy including match reactions, podcasts, football fun, and interviews.

You can follow Scott Clayton, Renuka Odedra and Jai McIntosh from the CareFreeChelsea team to keep up to date with his work. If you enjoyed reading this then give my other articles a read below.

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