Thomas Tuchel received serious warning message from Chelsea former player Joe Cole after the blues pitted twice with Lille in the Champions League round of 16 draw.
The first draw saw PSG face Man United, Atletico pitted with Bayern before it was re-draw.
Champions League last-16 ties
- Benfica vs Ajax
- Villarreal vs Juventus
- Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
- Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
- Inter vs Liverpool
- Sporting CP vs Manchester City
- Chelsea vs Lille
- PSG vs Real Madrid
“Chelsea will be very happy but I’ll put a word of caution on that,” Joe Cole, who represented both clubs during his playing career, told BT Sport
“Lille are a very exciting, strong and very aggressive team and they’ll have nothing to lose. Chelsea are the champions, the hunted.
“Where Lille play, it could be a hell of an atmosphere. It’s going to be a tough one. I know they (Chelsea) are probably breathing a sigh of relief to avoid Bayern and Real Madrid but you can’t discount this Lille team.”
Tuchel certainly won’t. Partly because he knows the threat Lille can pose from his time in charge of Paris Saint-Germain but also because of what happened during last season’s run to the Champions League title.
The German coach arrived in January and oversaw impressive results in the knockout stages against Atletico Madrid, Porto, Real Madrid and Manchester City.
No tie, nor the final, was easy for Chelsea to navigate. Yet it was Porto – viewed as the ‘easier’ last opponents – who arguably gave the Blues their sternest test on route to lifting the big-eared trophy.
The two legs of the quarter-final tie, which were played in Seville due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, were gritty, attritional, not for the faint-hearted.
Sergio Conceicao’s side attempted to give Chelsea a bloody nose (trophically and literally) and the first leg was the only knockout match the Blues played under Tuchel that saw their expected goals against total reach one or above.
In the second, five Porto players were booked as they ground out a 1-0 victory. It wasn’t enough to progress, however, as Chelsea had won the first meeting by two goals thanks to Mason Mount and Ben Chiwell. At full-time, there were ugly scenes on the pitch as Conceicao and then Pepe became embroiled in a spat with Tuchel.
Such an abrasive encounter is unlikely to come against Lille; the age profile of the squad is younger than that of Porto and there are far fewer battle-hardened players for Jocelyn Gourvennec to lean on.
Yet Lille do not lack for talented players and – just as Porto attempted to last season – there will be a willingness to prove people wrong, to showcase they are not the soft touch many expected in the Champions League knockout stage, to prove Chelsea did not get lucky… twice.