Reece James has named the toughest opponents he’s faced for Chelsea – and they don’t play in the Premier League.
Part and parcel of playing for a top Premier League club like Chelsea is that you come up against elite opponents every few days and that’s certainly the case for Reece James.
The 23-year-old full-back is one of the best defenders in Europe, a reputation earned by getting the better of tricky attackers on a regular basis.
After breaking into the Chelsea first team in 2018, James played a key role in Chelsea winning the Champions League in 2021 and last season he was nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year award.
Both home and abroad, James has taken part in some epic duels.
However, when asked who his toughest opponents have been, he didn’t include anyone he’s faced in the Premier League.
In a TikTok video shared on Twitter, James was working out in the gym when he was asked who the toughest opponent he’s faced is.
After some deliberation and a long pause, James’ first pick was Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior.
The pair went head-to-head in the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season but ultimately it was the Brazilian who had the last laugh.
Chelsea couldn’t contain their Spanish opponents in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, as Karim Benzema scored an extraordinary hat-trick to give Los Blancos a 3-1 win.
Chelsea almost pulled off a remarkable comeback in the return fixture but, after taking a 3-0 lead at the Bernabeu, Rodrygo sent the tie to extra-time before Benzema delivered the killer blow.
Reece James with his sister following Chelsea’s Champions League triumph. Image: Alamy Unable to settle on just one opponent, James’ next pick was Rafael Leao.
The AC Milan winger attracted interest from several Premier League clubs last season as his explosive performances helped his side win a first Serie A title since 2011.
The pair faced each other twice in the Champions League group stages earlier this season and this time it was James who got his way.
Chelsea brushed the Italian giants aside 3-0 at Stamford Bridge before defeating them 2-0 at the San Siro a week later.
With Milan through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League and Real Madrid looking set to join them, James could again come up against either Vinicius or Leao before the season is over.