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Cesar Azpilicueta: 'I have a burning desire to win the Champions League'

Cesar Azpilicueta: 'I have a burning desire to win the Champions League'
© Reuters
Chelsea and the Spanish international have not made it past the round of 16 stage since 2014.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta says winning the Champions League remains a burning desire for him.

The Spaniard signed for the Blues months after they secured their maiden victory in Europe's elite competition via a penalty shoot-out win over Bayern Munich in 2012.

During a nine-year stint at Stamford Bridge, the defender has won two Premier League titles, one FA Cup, one League Cup and also been victorious in the Europa League twice.

The Champions League continues to elude the 31-year-old though, but he wants that to change this season starting with Tuesday's round of 16 first leg with Atletico Madrid, which takes place in Bucharest due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Azpilicueta said: "When I joined Chelsea in 2012 after winning the Champions League, of course my aim was to repeat that.

"It is something that sticks inside and every year when the chance comes, I want to go further. It is the biggest competition in Europe. We know it is very tough but you have to be ready for that challenge.

"Personally, it is something that is in me and hopefully we can start from tomorrow, have a good game, get a great result and see how far we can go."

Standing in Chelsea's way is Luis Suarez, who has starred for Atletico Madrid this season and scored 16 goals to fire them to the LaLiga summit since a summer switch from Barcelona.

The Uruguayan has plenty of history with the Blues and most notably for his bite on Azpilicueta's old team-mate Branislav Ivanovic in 2013.

Luis Suarez was handed a 10-match ban for a bite on Branislav Ivanovic in 2012
Luis Suarez was handed a 10-match ban for a bite on Branislav Ivanovic in 2012 (Peter Byrne/PA)

Chelsea's captain added: "The best way to defend him is to keep him as far away from the goal as possible. That's a collective job and as defenders we know that.

"I faced him when he was at Liverpool and with Barcelona in the Champions League. He is a great striker, we know his numbers and wherever he plays he scores a lot of goals.

"We will try to defend against him collectively, control the game and to keep the attacking players as far from our goal as possible."

If Tuchel had got his way at the start of this season, Suarez would be at his old club Paris St Germain.

The German wanted to bring the forward to the Champions League runners-up, but he decided to eventually move to Madrid.

"It was a possibility," Tuchel explained. "We heard the rumours he was about to leave Barcelona and who cannot be interested in signing one of the best strikers in world football history and present?

"We tried our luck, we did not make it. He decided to stay in Spain, move to Atletico and has proven his quality.

"He is a natural striker, a born striker, and has the certain mentality that only strikers have. This mentality is to show his will, intensity and anger to score, score and score. He is never satisfied, so what a mentality and what a player.

"I'm not involved in his history with Chelsea and to me it's never good to look too far in the past. We only look forward.

"We play him tomorrow with Atletico and we know about his qualities. We are aware of them and will try to stop him from scoring."

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