The Blues are in-form, but no one doubts this is a real European test 1,700 miles from home. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton add a new country to the Chelsea story…
Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea also currently top Group E on goal difference. By the end of this stage the final standings of teams will be decided first by head-to-head results, though. This visit to the second-placed Ukrainians offers the chance to steal a march on our rivals.
Shakhtar had played four Champions League matches without victory at the Donbass Arena prior to their 2-0 Matchday One success against Nordsjaelland. The Blues have since beaten the same side 4-0 in Denmark, and have a fine away record this season of four wins in five, with 12 goals for, three against.
The emphatic victory at White Hart Lane marked the most Chelsea goals there since the 4-4 draw in March 2008, and the sixth occasion we have registered four (or more) in the league.
Chelsea have now won as many times in our meetings at White Hart Lane as the hosts: 26. In contrast the victories ratio at Stamford Bridge is stacked 35:21 in west London's favour.
This is also the first time since the first half of the title-winning 2005/06 season the club has registered away league wins at both Arsenal and Tottenham.
For a further example you have to go way back to 1964. Under Tommy Docherty - whose pacy, dynamic side bears some comparison to the present incumbents - Chelsea won 2-1 at White Hart Lane in February, and 4-2 at Arsenal a month later (by coincidence the reverse of this season's scorelines). The remarkable Bobby Tambling hit all six goals.
Chelsea's opener against Spurs came from a poorly-cleared corner and might soon be regarded as an endangered species if trends persist in the Champions League.
UEFA's technical report on the season just gone notes that goals derived from set plays have decreased from 35% to 22% over the last 10 years.
Just six players hit the net directly from a free kick in the 2011/12 Champions League. Corners are far less of a threat at the highest level too, these days: of the 1,250 taken last season, just 27 led to a goal.
So much for statistics. The only one that matters to Blues fans was the late corner in Munich delivered by Juan Mata, and the Didier Drogba header that broke Bayern's hearts.
Thankfully, there are some things that still transcend metrics.
Other Group E fixture
Tue 7.45pm - FC Nordsjaelland v Juventus
|Champions League Group E table|
This season's Champions League features 17 domestic league champions from last season, eight runners-up and five third-placed finishers. Malaga is the only club in the group stage to have finished in fourth place in their domestic league. Only Chelsea from Group E failed to top their league last season.
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WE HAVE HISTORY
Chelsea and Shakhtar have entirely different origins. Our Ukrainian opponents were founded in 1936 by the Soviet state from a coalmine workers' collective - hence their nicknames, the Miners and the Moles. They recently reverted to crossed hammers on their badge in recognition of their mining roots.
Gus Mears and his wealthy co-founders in 1905 were in contrast capitalist entrepreneurs and businessman intent on having fun and maybe recouping a little of the money they threw at the club along the way.
The side we play tonight were originally called Stakhanovets Stalino and, like Chelsea, success eluded them for much of their early history. Donetsk was occupied by the Nazis between 1941 and 1943, and the football team had virtually to be rebuilt from scratch on liberation.
When rivals Dynamo Moscow visited Stamford Bridge for the legendary post-war friendly against Chelsea in November 1945, the reduced Stakhanovets were having to ply their trade a division below.
A year later they became Shakhtar Stalino and by 1951 had achieved their highest finish, third in the Soviet Top League. The rebranded outfit's most successful spell before the modern era came in the mid-1970s, when they finished runners-up twice, third again, represented the USSR in Europe and scooped several domestic cups.
While remaining in Dynamo Kiev's shadow, Shakhtar were one of the strongest clubs in the nascent Ukrainian Premier League following the break-up of the USSR, and won the title for the first time in 2001/02. They have repeated the feat six times since and are now Ukraine's foremost football club.
When Blues fans think of Ukraine, though, they picture former Kiev icon Andriy Shevchenko, the striker who netted 22 times in 77 games for the Blues. (More specifically, they probably picture him brilliantly opening the scoring at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup replay of 2007.)
The Miners are a lesser-known quantity to the Blues. As a club Chelsea have little to compare the hosts with since we have never faced a Ukrainian side before, even in a friendly.
Yet plenty of our players experienced the country during the summer's Euro 2012 tournament. Spain and England both played twice at this evening's venue, the Donbass Arena (which, incidentally, takes its name from the region - the Donets Basin) - and neither lost a game.
Shakhtar's coach, Mircea Lucescu, is also familiar face. As boss of Turkish side Beşiktaş, he faced Chelsea twice in the 2003/04 group stage. Unheralded Sergen Yalcin grabbed two goals in six minutes to earn an historic victory over Claudio Ranieri's team at the Bridge in October.
The Blues responded on Matchday Six by reversing the 2-0 scoreline in a game held in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, due to security concerns in Istanbul, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink notching the first in the 77th minute and setting up Wayne Bridge for the second eight minutes later. (The referee that night was one Anders Frisk.)
The win was important as it confirmed Chelsea as Group G winners, to face Stuttgart in the Round of 16. Beşiktaş dropped to third.
Ranieri steered the Blues past Arsenal in the quarter-finals before falling short one step from the final against Monaco.
Chelsea's biggest away win in the Champions League
20/10/1999 - Galatasaray 0-5 Chelsea - First group stage
Shakhtar's biggest home win in the Champions League
26/11/2008 - Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 FC Basel 1893 - Group stage
Chelsea failed to score away in the Champions League: 685
Shakhtar lost at home in any competition: 335
Arsenal won a trophy: 2,712
Liverpool won the league: 8,207
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