Jose Mourinho says he is keen to avoid one of the "sharks in the ocean" when the Uefa Champions League draw for the last 16 gets underway on Monday morning.
Chelsea were the runaway leaders of their group, concluding with a 3-1 win over Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday. Winning the group is, in theory, supposed to award the club in question with an easier draw in the first of the knockout phases.
The Blues could be paired up against FC Basel, Bayer Leverkusen or Shakhtar Donetsk in what would make them heavy favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals. However, they could also face Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1 champions PSG.
"Let's see if the sharks let us, because there are a few sharks in the ocean" - Jose Mourinho
"We don't fear anybody, but we know there are very good, strong teams in this competition," Mourinho told reporters after the game.
"Last year we were close and we didn't have the team playing at such a high level as we do this season, so we can dream we will do it.
"But let's see if the sharks let us, because there are a few sharks in the ocean."
Winning the group has allowed Chelsea to avoid a possible matchup with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the last 16, but Juventus and PSG will represent a significant challenge for the Blues.
They are ineligible to face Arsenal or Manchester City, who finished runners-up in their respective groups, as Uefa rules prevents clubs from the same association facing eachother before the quarter-finals. They will also not be able to meet Schalke 04, who finished runners-up in their group, before the quarter-finals
Real Champions League starts
Mourinho believes that now the group stages are over, "the real Champions League starts now". Having scored 17 goals in the group stage, the first round certainly seemed a formality for this formidable Blues side.
"I don't think any of the big teams are out of the Champions League now... maybe Liverpool," he added.
"But all the teams that want to win the competition, they're all in the competition.
"Season after season you repeat this, normally everyone is in the last 16. The Champions League starts now."
"At the same time it's good for us that our direct opponents in the Premier League are involved in European competitions"
The Special One also claimed that he was happy to be joined in the knockout phase of Europe's premier competition by fellow English clubs Arsenal and Manchester City. Not only is it good for the game, but it also boosts Chelsea's Premier League title chances.
"I work in England. I want the prestige of English football and I hope they do well," he said.
"We have also Liverpool, Tottenham and Everton in the Europa League, so I wish them good too.
"At the same time it's good for us that our direct opponents in the Premier League are involved in European competitions.
"Manchester United are not. They have the same advantage that Liverpool had last season in terms of the Premier League, a big advantage."
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