Tony Cascarino has shut down fellow former Chelsea star Jason Cundy’s claims that the Blues are contenders for Champions League glory this season.
Cundy stunned his Manchester United-supporting Sports Bar co-host Andy Goldstein on Wednesday night by insisting Frank Lampard’s side are ‘capable’ of being crowned European champions.
His comments came following the Blues’ 2-2 draw at Valencia, which meant their quest to qualify for the knockout stages will go down to their final group game.
Chelsea looked on course to book their last 16 place as they led 2-1 at the Mestalla, only to concede a freak goal with eight minutes remaining to come away with a draw.
In truth, though, the Premier League rode their luck throughout the game. Valencia striker Maxi Gomez was guilty of two embarrassing misses from close-range, with Rodrigo Moreno also wasting a great goalscoring chance and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga saved a penalty from the Spaniards.
But Cundy believes their free-scoring form of Lampard’s impressive young charges will make them a match for any team in Europe, if they make it through.
“I think we’re capable,” the former Blues defender told talkSPORT. “I think we can. Why not?
“The best team does not always win the Champions League. The last time Chelsea won it, we were average.
“I’m not saying will, the chances are we probably won’t, but look at Spurs last year. They were going out against Ajax and found a way to win. Yes, they had a world-class striker in Harry Kane, but he didn’t dig them out, Lucas Moura did, and he isn’t world-class.
“You have to be realistic. I know Chelsea are nowhere near the best in Europe, we’re nowhere near the best in this country.
“But you give me any game at any time and ask me, have we got the players to beat a certain team? Yes we do. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, over two legs, yes.”
However, Cascarino argues that Chelsea will have no chance winning anything against the top teams in Europe or England this season if their defensive performances do not improve.
He has also been impressed by the Blues’ performances, but believes the Champions League is too big an ask so early in many of their players’ careers.
Speaking on Thursday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, the former striker said: “Just listening to what Jason said, I get why Chelsea fans are excited about the team’s attacking flair, they always look like getting goals.
“But I cannot see them winning the Champions League if they defend the way they did last night.
“This has been a problem since frank has taken over. He’s got a very young and naive team defensively. He’s had Zouma and Tomori playing at centre-half, with Christensen and Reece James at full-back. James, in the 94th minute, is literally on the 18 yard box, Chelsea have been countered and they nearly lost the game!
“I think they will be punished if they defend in that manner where they are playing so aggressively.
“Look, Kepa saved a penalty, conceded twice and Valencia still missed four sitters.
“Chelsea cannot win the Champions League if they think they’re just going to outscore everybody.
“Can they win games? Yeah, they can beat anyone on their day, but I can’t see them putting in a really mundane and professional defensive performance, like the one that won Liverpool the final last season against Tottenham.
“I think there’s a lot more to come from this Chelsea team, but I think it might be too early for them.”