Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers makes Champions League prediction in Chelsea praise

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has backed Chelsea to be one of the Champions League’s leading forces next season.

While Thomas Tuchel’s side were touted as potential rivals to Manchester City and Liverpool before the start of the season, the German has seen his Premier League title challenge collapse.

Injuries to key players such as Ben Chilwell and Reece James came at the worst possible time and, more recently, the Chelsea boss has admitted all of the uncertainty hanging over the club amid their takeover saga was causing a distraction.

Still, reaching both domestic finals and finishing third behind two of the greatest teams English football can hardly been seen a disappointment, albeit with the caveat that Chelsea were looking like genuine challengers up until the frantic festive schedule.

Champions League winners in 2021, their defence came to an end at the quarter-final stage, although even that defeat came down to fine margins with Real Madrid - as they so often do - producing a stirring comeback inside the Santiago Bernabeu.

Rodgers, who worked at Stamford Bridge as a coach earlier in his career, hailed Chelsea as the “best team” his Leicester side had played this season and backed them to challenge in Europe next season.

“I’m a big admirer of Chelsea and the team and the work Thomas has done there," said Rodgers, who takes his Foxes side to Stamford Bridge on Thursday.

"I would go as far as to say they are the best team we have played this season. When we played them early on in the season they were at the top of their game. I thought they were outstanding.

"Not long after that moment they lost some players. I’ve said it before, even with squads like Chelsea’s you need your top players available.

"Over the course of the time they have had players out, key players who make the systems function to the highest level.

"Then obviously there’s the distractions behind the scenes and of course that’s a challenge.

"But what I do know is they’ve got an outstanding manager who has done a fantastic job since he’s been there. They’ve got a group of really good players, top, top talents.

"I saw them lose in the FA Cup final but they have so much courage because they keep getting there. And you’d rather be in there and losing finals - of course you want to win - but you’d rather be arriving there knowing it’s going to drop your way and you’re going to win in the future.

"So they are a top team, with top players and they are in the Champions League next season, and I expect them to be up there challenging again next season."

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