Belfast Telegraph

Besiktas are Chelsea's favoured Champions League opponent, admits Cahill

By Matt McGeehan

Captain Gary Cahill has admitted Chelsea would rather avoid Barcelona and Paris St Germain in the first knock-out round of the Champions League.

Antonio Conte's side drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night to relinquish the lead in Group C and finish as runners-up to Roma.

It means they will be drawn against a winner of another group in Monday's last-16 draw and, as Uefa regulations prohibit teams from the same nation facing each other in the first knockout round, Lionel Messi's Barca, Neymar's PSG and Besiktas are the only three teams Chelsea can face.

Head coach Conte and playmaker Eden Hazard appeared to welcome the prospect of facing Barcelona or PSG, but Cahill insisted his preference would be for such ties to come later in the competition.

"To get to and win the final, of course we have to beat the best teams," Cahill said. "But let's not lie as well, let's hope we dodge them and progress.

"You expect to see the very, very big teams later on. At this stage of the competition, those that qualify are top teams - you can't dodge anyone too much - but I hope the draw is a good one for us."

Cahill rued missed opportunities to beat Atletico, with goalkeeper Jan Oblak making a number of key saves for the visitors, who fell into the Europa League.

"We should have won that game," Cahill said.

"How we've not won that game is incredible. The performance was good from us and their keeper had a fantastic game."

Chelsea next play at West Ham in the Premier League on Saturday, seeking to continue their run of six wins and a draw in the top flight since the mid-October loss at Crystal Palace.

"We have to go game by game and try to do our best," said boss Conte.

"We have to show to deserve to go through to the next round in the Champions League.

"We have to show to deserve to fight until the end for the title."

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