Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti is hoping to avoid AC Milan and Inter in the Champions League last 16.
The Blues will be among those seeded in next Friday’s second-round draw in Nyon, alongside Manchester United and Arsenal, after winning their respective groups.
Chelsea have seven possible rivals for the second round – Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Olympique Lyon, Milan, Inter, Stuttgart and Olympiacos.
“I admit that I would prefer to avoid a head-to-head with (Milan coach) Leonardo in February at Stamford Bridge,” Ancelotti told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“But if it happens, it’s no problem.
“Football puts you in this type of situation.
“It already happened to (former AC Milan star) Kaka, who faced AC Milan with Real Madrid in the group stages.”
Ancelotti, who twice won the Champions League, in 2003 and 2007, during his eight years in charge of AC Milan, is wary of the potential threat of two strong Italian sides.
“It’s obvious that if we get Milan the emotional aspect would be something special,” he said.
“Chelsea v Milan would be a very particular situation for the both of us.
“The only problem if we get Inter is that from a technical standpoint they are a great team.
“I believe that in the runners-up group they (Inter) are the best side.
“To eliminate Italian teams is going to be difficult.”
In his first year in charge of Chelsea, Ancelotti has set his sights on bringing the European Cup to Stamford Bridge as the Champions League title is the only trophy the club has not won since Roman Abramovich took over the Blues outfit.
However, despite the Londoners being among the favourites to win the title this season, Ancelotti is under no illusion how great a challenge the competition will be.
“I see a very balanced and uncertain tournament,” he said. “Besides Liverpool, all the top teams are in the contention.
“From the group winners, all the teams are difficult.
“The only one that has less experience is Arsenal, a very young side.
“They have lost several key players with respect to when they eliminated Milan two years ago in the last 16.
“In midfield there’s always (Cesc) Fabregas, but (Mathieu) Flamini and (Aleksandr) Hleb left the club and those were two big losses.
“Of the teams that finished runners-up in the group, I only see three teams at the same level as the group winners: Milan, Inter and Bayern Munich.
“The other sides are one step behind.”
Ancelotti reiterated Chelsea do not need to sign anybody in January – despite four players’ participation in the African Nations Cup in Angola and the suspension of their FIFA transfer embargo.
Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery have been among the players linked with a move to west London in the winter transfer market.
When asked if Chelsea would make any moves in the January window, Ancelotti said: “I am satisfied with the team I have.
“In January, (Didier) Drogba, (John) Mikel, (Salomon) Kalou and (Michael) Essien will be playing in the Africa Nations Cup and they will miss four rounds of games in the Premier League.
“But I have promising players like (Fabio) Borini and (Gael) Kakuta.
“Kakuta, 18, was the best player against APOEL (in Tuesday’s Champions League 2-2 draw).”