Just 54 days since the curtain came down on our 2019/20 Champions League campaign, the focus once more returns to Europe’s premier club competition ahead of this afternoon’s group stage draw in Switzerland.
The Blues will be hoping to better last season's run to the Round of 16, which ended in defeat to the eventual champions Bayern Munich, when European action resumes in three weeks' time.
A little after 4pm UK time today, Frank Lampard will be able to plot his side's route out of the group stage more clearly as our opponents are determined in the usual ball-plucking fashion at UEFA headquarters in Nyon.
With the play-off round concluding on Wednesday night, the full roster of 32 participating teams from 15 different countries is now known, as is the split of those teams between the four seeded pots.
So, here’s how it works...
The four pots essentially represent the seeding of clubs in the competition, with the champions of the top six European leagues joined by the holders of the Europa League and Champions League as top seeds.
This year, due to Bayern Munich currently reigning as champions of Germany and Europe, their association seed has dropped down to the next best-ranked continental league (Russia) and their Pot 1 seeding spot therefore goes to the domestic champions Zenit Saint Petersburg.
The make-up of Pots 2, 3 and 4 are determined by each team’s UEFA club coefficient from last season.
What’s a UEFA club coefficient again?
UEFA coefficients are basically rankings used for seeding teams in club and international competitions. Clubs earn points towards their coefficient based on how well they perform in the Champions League and Europa League (two points for a group stage win, five points for reaching the last-16, etc). Points are then tallied over the previous five seasons to give each club their coefficient.
Chelsea’s current coefficient score up to the end of last season (which is what the group stage seeding is based on) is 83 points, which ranks us joint-15th with last year’s semi-finalists Lyon. Part of this is due to our lack of involvement in European football in 2016/17.
Who can we face from Pot 1 then?
Everyone except Liverpool, as country protection in the group stage means no two teams from the same national association can be drawn in the same group.
That means we could face a swift return to Munich to take on Bayern or a meeting with the beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain. Of the seven potential options, Sevilla and Zenit are the two we have never faced before.
Pot 1: Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto
Which teams in Pot 2 will we avoid?
Obviously we can’t be drawn against any side from the same pot as us so that means we will avoid the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and last season’s group stage opponents Ajax. Fellow Premier League representatives Manchester City and United are also in this pot.
Pot 2: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Manchester City, Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Ajax
Who can we face from Pot 3?
Two of the surprise packages from last season’s knockout round feature in the third pot; Atalanta were impressive before falling to PSG in the quarter-finals, while RB Leipzig went one stage further before the French champions dispatched them comprehensively in the last four.
A meeting with our former manager Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan is also a possibility here. RB Leipzig (Germany), Salzburg (Austria), Krasnodar (Russia) and Atalanta (Italy) would all be new opposition for the Blues if we are paired together.
Pot 3: Dynamo Kiev, Salzburg, RB Leipzig, Inter Milan, Olympiacos, Lazio, Krasnodar, Atalanta
What about Pot 4?
Six of the eight possibilities in Pot 4 are unfamiliar opposition for Chelsea in European competition, with only Marseille and Club Brugge having faced off against us in previous encounters.
A meeting with Rennes would mean a swift return to France for Edouard Mendy, while the Turks of Basaksehir would represent a trip back to Istanbul, the city in which we played the Super Cup final last season and host of the 2021 Champions League final.
Pot 4: Lokomotiv Moscow, Marseille, Club Brugge, Borussia Monchengladbach, Istanbul Basaksehir, Midtjylland, Rennes, Ferencvaros
And when is the draw?
This afternoon (Thursday) at 4pm. You watch live on BT Sport and UEFA’s website, while we’ll also have the latest information right here on the official Chelsea website, as well as the 5th Stand app and our social channels.
In the meantime, here’s everything else you need to know about the draw.