Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta is aware of the challenge they face in retaining the Champions League this season.
Azpilicueta, Thomas Tuchel and co begin their defence on Tuesday night when Zenit St Petersburg make the trip to Stamford Bridge for the Group H opener as the 2021/22 European campaign gets underway.
It was a season to remember for the Blues last season. A typical Chelsea campaign. They sacked a manager, Frank Lampard, half way through the season and appointed Tuchel who guided the club to their second European Cup after just four months in charge - a similar tale to their 2012 triumph under Roberto Di Matteo.
But now Chelsea embark on a new challenge, their defence. Their 2012/13 one was a year to forget. Knocked out in the group stages, but was saved by winning the Europa League at the end of the season.
They will be keen to avoid a repeat of the outcome nine seasons ago, and Azpilicueta expects a difficult challenge because everyone will see Chelsea as the team to beat this year.
He said on the expectations for this season: "I never had to choose what is a success or not at the start of the season. Success means trophies, the biggest that we can get.
"The Champions League is the biggest but I always felt since I arrived here that Chelsea fights for every trophy, that will be the case this season. We will go for every competition with full focus on trying to get as far as possible.
"Every year is more difficult, coming as Champions of Europe every team wants to beat us. We have to be ready, it’s a new challenge that we are facing and it’s going to be a tough one."
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