Posted on: Fri 07 Dec 2012

Having seen our Champions League campaign come to an end earlier this week, focus now switches to the Europa League, where the Blues will be looking to secure a second successive European trophy when the final takes place in Amsterdam next May.

The competition now takes a break before returning in February, and the official Chelsea website takes a look at our potential opponents, as well as the overall structuring of the competition.

The second round of the Europa League is made up of the 12 group winners and 12 runners-up from the group stages, as well as the eight teams, such as Chelsea, who finished third in the Champions League group stages.

The 12 group winners and the four best third-ranked teams from the Champions League are seeded, and will be drawn against the 12 group runners-up and the remaining third-ranked teams from the Champions League.

Clubs from the same country cannot be paired together at this stage of the tournament, while teams who played against each other in the group stages are also unable to be drawn together.

The group-winners and the four best third-ranked teams from the Champions League will play their return legs at home.

All three English clubs who started the tournament are safely through to the knockout stages. Liverpool topped Group A, while Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur finished as runners up in groups D and J respectively.

However, with the rules stipulating that teams from the same country cannot be drawn together at this stage, there is no chance, for now, of any all-English affairs.

We could potentially face Atletico Madrid, whom Chelsea supporters will have painful memories of following their 4-1 win over us in the UEFA Super Cup back in August, while both Napoli and Inter, both of whom we have faced in recent years, would also provide difficult tests.

Dynamo Kyiv, BATE, Zenit St Petersburg and Ajax all, like ourselves, dropped into the Europa League having finished third in their respective Champions League groups and will all be looking to make a big impact.

Germany appears to be one of our most likely destinations as the Bundesliga has three teams left in the competition that we could potentially meet.

Bayer Leverkusen, who we faced in the group stages of last season's Champions League, still remain, while Stuttgart, a team we eliminated from the 2003/04 Champions League, and Borussia Monchengladbach, are also possible opponents.

Basel and Sparta Prague are two sides with plenty of European experience, and would undoubtedly be difficult opponents.

Anzhi Makhachkala qualified for the knockout stages having finished second in Group A behind Liverpool, and while Chelsea supporters may not be too familiar with the Russian outfit, if we are paired with them, we will meet former Chelsea man Yury Zhirkov.

Levante also remain in the competition having finished as runners-up in Group L, and having never faced the Spanish side, who are based in Valencia, it would certainly make for an intriguing encounter if we were to be drawn together.