6 Reasons Why Chelsea Can Win Champions League
Chelsea may now be joined by Manchester United in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, but if fans of English football are hoping to see a team from the Premier League lift the ultimate prize in European football, it's the Blues on whom they should be pinning their hopes.
But can they actually do it? After all, standing in their way to do so are the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Chelsea have the look of a team going from strength to strength in the competition, though a commanding display against Galatasaray in the last 16 ensured they have every opportunity of reclaiming the trophy they last lifted in 2012.
They're in Friday's quarter-final draw and confidence will be high.
Bleacher Report identifies six reasons why Chelsea can bring the Champions League back to London.
If the role of a manager has ever been doubted, Jose Mourinho has shown this season that the very notion is folly.
His return to Stamford Bridge has suddenly propelled the Blues back among the leading pack of English football, topping the table and progressing in Europe.
In years past, Chelsea have lacked the mettle he instilled in his players during his first spell in charge, yet within a few short months, it's a characteristic prevalent in his current crop.
This Chelsea team play with all the intensity and passion of their manager, and Champions League nights are when he comes alive.
It's his moment, and of the managers left in the competition, not many can compete with his nous.
Not winning the Champions League is the one blemish on his Chelsea record, and it's one he will be determined to get rid of as soon as possible.
For all the criticism Chelsea's strikers have received this season, it's been a different story at the back, where the Blues have flourished.
Jose Mourinho has added the steel of old to his back four, with John Terry and Gary Cahill at the heart of it.
No defence in England is better. Chelsea have conceded just 23 times in the Premier League and just four times in eight games in the Champions League, giving them the competition's joint-best record with Atletico Madrid.
It's going to take a lot for the opposition to break them down.
Chelsea Aren't Embarrassed to Lock Games Down
"If I want to win 1-0, I think I can. One of the easiest things in football is to win 1-0," Jose Mourinho explained in December, via Eurosport.
It was a comment taken at the time to mean he was preparing to revert to tactics of old that were more negative than many would have liked, including Roman Abramovich.
It was to the contrary, however. Mourinho was reflecting more upon his team's ability to get results when they need them. If they need to lock games down, they will.
We've seen it happen plenty of times in the past, with the victory over Manchester City at Etihad Stadium last month being the prime example.
Chelsea weren't exactly defensive that night, but what they did effectively was contain City and stifle their play.
It may have restricted Chelsea's own attacking instincts at times, playing more on the counter, yet it secured a vital three points.
That's what cup football is all about—doing what it takes to get the result. It can be pretty at times, but needs must and Chelsea are among the best in the business at grinding out results.
Every club want to be artisans, but Chelsea aren't embarrassed when at times they have be more pragmatic than romantic.
Suddenly Samuel Eto'o's season is becoming far more productive than it appeared it would when he first arrived in England. He was on the score sheet against Galatasaray in Chelsea's 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League last 16.
The Cameroon striker now has 10 goals in 30 games, a strike rate of one in three, while all of those goals have come at Stamford Bridge.
As we approach the business end of the campaign, Eto'o's beginning to look his sharpest at the most important time of the year, and Chelsea are looking more potent as a result.
Sure, he may not take his form on the road, yet when teams visit west London, they will be aware of what he is capable of and how he has punished other teams this season.
Eto'o comes with a considerable Champions League pedigree, too. His Galatasaray goal was his 30th in the competition, making him just the fourth player to reach the milestone.
He has an appetite for the big occasion and, as the Champions League rolls on, Eto'o's hunger will only intensify.
It will be the games they play at home that will determine Chelsea's Champions League fate, and with an in-form Eto'o, they have the capabilities to damage their opponents beyond repair.
While the rest of the world may be having sleepless nights over domestic chores and bill payments, Premier League and European defenders are tossing and turning at the thought of coming up against Eden Hazard.
Like Samuel Eto'o before him, Hazard holds the key to Chelsea going all the way in Europe this term.
When he performs, so too do Chelsea, and for much of 2013/14, he has been sublime.
He is a threat on the flanks, driving at opponents, but he also offers an outlet to ease pressure at the back.
He may be diminutive, yet Hazard uses his stocky frame to good effect.
Facing Bayern Munich or Barcelona, the reality is that Chelsea will suffer periods where they struggle to retain possession. When they do eventually win the ball, it will be the likes of Hazard retaining it who will prove most influential.
He's lethal in attack and has the attributes elsewhere in his game to make a considerable contribution.
The Spirit of 2012
Much of the personnel who inspired Chelsea to their 2012 Champions League success may have since departed, but there are enough of those players still turning out for the Blues to remind the newer faces of what a fine achievement it was.
Indeed, Chelsea won the Champions League on the back of grit and determination, with a fair bit of luck thrown in for good effect.
There was a feeling that it was their year in 2012, and with Jose Mourinho back at the club, the confidence of a return to the final will be just as pervasive.
Memories such as Munich breed intent and belief. When their backs are against the wall and success appears to be passing them by, it will be moments like Didier Drogba's late equalizer that will pull Chelsea through.
They were massive underdogs before and overcame the tag. Why not do it again?
Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent and will be following the club from a London base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here @garryhayes
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