Chelsea will learn their Champions League group stage opponents on Thursday ahead of their campaign to regain the title of European champions after last season’s disappointment on the continent.
The Blues, winners in 2012 when they defeated current champions Bayern Munich on penalties inside their own stadium, were eliminated last term by the same opponents at the last 16 stage.
After splashing more than £200m this summer though, expectations have grown on Frank Lampard and what the Blues can achieve this term – if not challenging, then at least a place inside the quarter-finals.
Due to not being the Premier League champions, Chelsea are almost certain to face a daunting opponent in the group stage with the champions, Bayern, of course a potential option, in addition to Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus.
But across the remaining pots, the difficulty will be purely luck with as many tough opponents or potential midweek trips as there are soft ties due to the diversity of teams and countries involved in the tournament. Two of last season’s final eight, RB Leipzig and Atalanta sit ominously in pot three for example. Here are the best and worst options facing the Blues this time around. In pot two with Chelsea are: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dortmund and Ajax – meaning none of these non-Premier League rivals can face Chelsea until the last 16 at the earliest.
Pot one: Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto
Pot three: Dynamo Kyiv, Red Bull Salzburg, RB Leipzig, Inter Milan, Olympiacos, Lazio, Krasnodar, Atalanta
Pot four: Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Club Brugge, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Rennes, Ferencvaros
Porto, Olympiacos, Ferencvaros
Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Lokomotiv Moscow
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