Former Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole has suggested that he “would be stunned” if “at least” two English teams do not reach the Champions League semi-finals.
The Champions League group stages get underway this midweek. The holders Chelsea have their first game on Tuesday evening against Zenit. Juventus and Malmo are the other sides in Group H.
The Blues beat Manchester City in the final of last year’s competition. They have a difficult group as they will come up against PSG, RB Leipzig and Club Brugge in Group A.
Elsewhere, Liverpool will face AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and Porto in Group B, while Man United have a simpler group as they have been drawn to face Atalanta, Villarreal and Young Boys.
Cole has told the Daily Mail that he expects “at least” two English teams to reach the semi-finals of the competition this season:
“I would be stunned if we don’t get at least two teams in the semi-finals, possibly three and maybe even four. I just think we are so much stronger than the other leagues,” Cole claimed.
“The best thing for English football now is that we had a 10-year lull when none of our top players were competing at Champions League level, from 2000 to 2010, now you look at Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, their teams are full of English players. That’s why we’re so unbelievable.
“I have to see what PSG looks like with those players. That could go one way or the other still because it’s still unbalanced as a squad. Had the Messi deal been done earlier, I think certain other types of players would have come in, more runners. We’ll wait and see but that’s an exciting project to watch.”
“Saul is a great player. I’ve known him since his days in the national team,” Azpilicueta said.
“He has a great experience at the highest level with Atletico Madrid in the Champions League and, when he signed for Chelsea, he had a bit of stressful last hours of the transfer window.
“He arrived in a new country, just field training sessions, his first game was against good opposition and they were very aggressive, so it’s normal.
“Sometimes you need a bit more time to adapt. His response has been absolutely spot on. He’s decided to improve, he’s asking questions, he wants to adapt as quick as possible.
“Some players need more time than others. That’s completely natural. He asked for our full support.”