Marcos Alonso feels Chelsea have shown themselves capable of progressing in the Champions League but agrees with Sergio Aguero that there are no favourites.
The Blues are the defending Champions in Europe’s elite club competition. And the defence of their crown is still very much alive after moving past Lille in the round of 16. A 2-1 victory in France followed a 2-0 home triumph, giving Thomas Tuchel’s side a comfortable passage into the quarter-finals.
Things are about to get much tougher, with 13-time European champions Real Madrid next on the agenda. Los Blancos are flying high at the top of LaLiga.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men are nine points clear of the chasing pack. However, they were thrashed 4-0 at home by fierce rival Barcelona in El Clasico last Sunday.
The pressure will be on when they arrive at Stamford Bridge on April 6 and for the return leg in Spain on April 12. Aguero has now retired from the sport but still keeps a keen eye on the European game.
And he believes, with the usual suspects still involved, it as anyone’s tournament.
“All of the Champions League quarter-finals will be very close matches. These are the eight best teams in Europe and anything can happen,” he told Stake.com.
“You could have guessed from the start that these eight teams will have been the ones in the quarter-finals, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal.
Real Madrid want to steal Thomas Tuchel from Chelsea to replace Carlo Ancelotti
Real Madrid are targeting Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel to replace Carlo Ancelotti this summer
“There are no easy matches in the Champions League and even less so in these knockout ties. All the teams are heavy-hitters and from now on, every game will be played with the importance of a final.”
Alonso admits complicated route to final
Chelsea have been hit by the sanctions imposed on Roman Abramovich. But it seems to have galvanised the squad, with six consecutive victories in all competitions to their name.
Real star Toni Kroos recently suggested his side were favourites to come through the tie with Chelsea. Alonso has now had his say on proceedings.
While he backed the west Londoners to give a good account of themselves, he knows it will be tricky.
“We already showed last year what we are capable of. It’s a different year, another moment, but we’re facing two great teams and we’ll try to give everything to reach the semi-finals,” he told Diario AS.
“I think there are no favourites. At this point, any team is complicated and it will be a beautiful and difficult tie for sure. Let’s leave it there, at 50% chance for each.”
And the 31-year-old Spaniard recognises what a different animal Real are when they play in Europe.
“I knew from before the tie that Madrid was a very dangerous team. As superior as PSG were for much of the (last-16) tie, you can never give Madrid up for dead,” he added.
“Of course, it’s always difficult to face Real Madrid at any time and especially in a competition like the Champions League.”