The Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti feels that the strongest team they could draw in the first knockout round of the Champions League is likely to be Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan, closely followed by Bayern Munich and AC Milan.
Obviously he is not keen to have an emotional return to his old club AC Milan, so soon after leaving, but he says he will deal with it if it happens.
“I admit that I would prefer to avoid a head-to-head with (Milan coach) Leonardo in February at Stamford Bridge,” Ancelotti said. “But if it happens, it’s no problem.
“Football puts you in this type of situation. It already happened to Kaka, who faced AC Milan with Real Madrid in the group stages.”
“It’s obvious that if we get Milan the emotional aspect would be something special,” he said. “Chelsea v Milan would be a very particular situation for the both of us.
“The only problem if we get Inter is that from a technical standpoint they are a great team. I believe that in the runners-up group Inter are the best side.
“To eliminate Italian teams is going to be difficult.”
He was then asked who would be the best of the Group Winners. “I see a very balanced and uncertain tournament,” he said. “Besides Liverpool, all the top teams are in the contention. From the group winners, all the teams are difficult.
“The only one that has less experience is Arsenal, a very young side. They have lost several key players with respect to when they eliminated Milan two years ago in the last 16.
“In midfield there’s always Fabregas, but Flamini and Hleb left the club and those were two big losses.
“Of the teams that finished runners-up in the group, I only see three teams at the same level as the group winners: Milan, Inter and Bayern Munich. The other sides are one step behind.”
The draw takes place next Friday, the 18th December.
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