Having watched his former team-mate and fellow hero from Munich 2012, Didier Drogba, draw out Chelsea’s three opponents for the group stage of this season’s Champions League, Petr Cech gave his thoughts on the teams we will play.
Now the club’s technical and sporting advisor, he witnessed Chelsea grouped with teams we have not previously played, although there is no doubt he knows one of them especially well with current French league leaders Rennes his home before moving to Stamford Bridge in 2004, and also the side from which we have just signed Edouard Mendy.
But first Cech gives his views on the opposition drawn from Pots 1 and 3…
‘Sevilla have the record in winning the Europa League and they have a strong team again. Now, being in the Champions League, they will want to replicate what they’ve been doing in the Europa League. They will try to go as far as possible, and I have to say that we have never played Sevilla in a competitive game, so it’s the first time, and we will see who starts this rivalry better.
‘The Europa League is a competition which some people might say, “It’s not the Champions League,” but, at the same time, if you win it so many times in such a short period of time, you have to do things right because it’s a hard competition to win, and for them to have won it so many times in such a short time, I think it’s a great achievement.’
‘They started this process some years ago and you can see that their ambition was to grow and to progress and to get into European football. When you look at the team, it’s a new team in the Champions League. It’s their first time in the Champions League group stage, but they are familiar with the European campaign from the Europa League and, as well, it’s a very experienced team, because if you look at the age of the players, there’s a balance.
‘They have a very young goalkeeper and they have one young defender, but then you have players around 25 and a lot of players in their early 30s which gives you a lot of experience.’
‘It’s a special moment for me, because I spent two great years there as a player. I played there in Arsenal colours last year on the way to the Europa League final. We progressed, so it was a happy return, and now I’m going back there with Chelsea in a completely different position, not as a player anymore but it will be a great opportunity for me to go back there and be present at the unique event of playing in the Champions League, because it’s the first time in their club’s history and it’s been a long time coming.
‘The club had always been ambitious and wanted to close the gap between the top teams, like Paris and Lyon before, in the hierarchy of teams in France. They’ve finally achieved that, and I’m sure they’re looking forward to it, and they play us, a great European team with a lot of history, success and tradition.
Then they have Sevilla they have to be happy with the draw, and we recently bought Edouard [Mendy] from them so we were in touch and in contact in a completely different way when you buy players, but now let’s see. I’m looking forward to it and it’ll be a great experience.
‘I believe that we have to respect everybody in the group. On paper, given the history of our football club, we will obviously be favourites with Sevilla but at the same time, it’s a tricky position and you need to confirm it on the pitch.’