What Lille captain Jose Fonte has said about Antonio Rudiger in the past following UCL draw with Chelsea

Chelsea supporters can breathe a huge sigh of relief now the Champions League round of 16 draw has been completed.

Ahead of the selection process, the Blues’ potential opponents in the knock stages could have been Bayern Munich, Ajax, Real Madrid or Lille.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out which of the four would be the most favourable name to come out of the hat.

Luckily, fans’ prayers were answered, as Thomas Tuchel’s men avoided Bayern, Ajax and Madrid, instead landing a fixture with the Ligue 1 side.

Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images


However, the celebrations of the European holders had to be put on pause for a few hours.

An error with the selection process meant the draw was redone, leaving many clubs waiting on bated breath to find out their fate again.

Luckily for Chelsea, their result stayed the same and a clash with the French outfit still lies on the horizon.

Lille are currently 11th in the French top flight, having won just five of their opening 18 matches.

Hence the generally positive outlook from a Chelsea standpoint towards this particular elimination battle.

Fonte’s favourite Chelsea player

The Blues played Lille twice in the group stage of the 2019/20 competition, winning both matches 2-1.

Bringing the pair together again will also reunite the European holders with an extremely familiar face.

Jose Fonte is currently the captain of Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side, having been with Les Dogues since 2018.

Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

Followers of the Premier League know Fonte extremely well from his days defending for Southampton and West Ham United.

He is set to come against a well-known foe in Chelsea and a player the Portugal international openly admires in Thomas Tuchel’s squad.

“I’ve enjoyed watching him,” said the 37-year-old on Antonio Rudiger a few months ago.

“He’s in great form. That’s the reality. It’s very subjective to say who is the best in the moment, the best in the world.

“It’s great to see that he is having a great season and he’s playing his best football since he came to the league.”

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Rudiger the main man

Rudiger’s form hasn’t dipped since Fonte made these complimentary comments.

He continues to shin in Chelsea’s back-line and shows no signs of slowing down.

A possible match-up between the German and Fonte would certainly be an intriguing one.

Two battle-hardened professionals, who don’t mind getting their hands dirty when necessary.

Watch this space on the 15th of February, the date Chelsea host Lille at Stamford Bridge.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.