The Blues defender admits they have exceeded expectations by putting themselves in contention for continental glory
Reece James admits Chelsea’s run to the Champions League has come as a surprise with the Blues experiencing a “strange” 2020-21 campaign.
Big things were expected before a ball was kicked, with Frank Lampard overseeing an elaborate summer spending spree in west London that included deals for Timo Werner, Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech.
The wheels fell off by January as another managerial change saw Thomas Tuchel arrive, and a burst back into life has a top-four finish and a shot at continental glory on the cards.
What has been said?
On booking a semi-final with 13-time winners Real Madrid, Chelsea right-back James told the club’s official website: “The season started off a bit strange.
“If you’d said we would have been here at the start of the season then we probably wouldn’t have believed you, but it just shows what’s possible with hard work, everyone getting their heads down and working as a team.
“When you come to the later stages of competitions, you know you’re going to come up against top-class teams. We need to be ready and at our best right from the start.”
Can Chelsea topple Real?
Tuchel saw his side edge out Porto at the quarter-final stage, having previously sent Atletico Madrid packing in the last-16.
James believes anything is possible from this point, with the Blues ready for the challenge that Real Madrid will pose.
The England international said: “You can’t go into games with any fear. You can acknowledge a good team but you can’t go in worrying.
“We’re a very good team as well. We have many strengths, we play to our strengths and I think that’s shown over recent weeks. I just hope we can continue our good form and keep improving as a team.
“As we’ve progressed in the tournament, obviously the games have got harder and it’s higher stakes.
“I’ve never been in this position before, like a lot of the other young lads, and we’re learning a lot on the way. It’s part of playing in Europe and in the Champions League. When you play against foreign teams, they know what to do to get through games so you sometimes have to give some back to them as well.”
Chelsea will be back in domestic action on Saturday in their FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City.