Chelsea are back in the UEFA Champions League and our interest begins today as the draw for the group stage is made in Monaco.
Scheduled to start at 5pm UK time on Thursday evening and broadcast live on BT Sport and the UEFA.com website, the draw will see Frank Lampard’s side and 31 other clubs from across the continent discover their opponents for the first phase of the competition.
Teams have been split equally into four pots ahead of the draw, with one team from each pot making up the eight groups, although clubs from the same association cannot be drawn against each other. That means we cannot face Tottenham from Pot 2.
The Blues are in Pot 1 among the other top seeds due to our status as the Europa League holders. We are joined by Liverpool, last season’s Champions League winners, and the champions of the top six associations based on the 2018 UEFA country coefficients, meaning we will avoid a group meeting with the reigning champions of Spain, Italy, England, Germany, France and Russia.
Pots 2 to 4 are determined by the club coefficient rankings, meaning there are still plenty of tricky opponents elsewhere in the draw. Pot 2 contains the teams with the best and fourth-best coefficients in Europe (Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid respectively), a result of changes made by UEFA in 2014 to the seeding system.
The 2018/19 league runners-up from the Bundesliga (Borussia Dortmund) and Serie A (Napoli), plus the champions from Portugal (Benfica) and Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk) are also among the second seeds.
Inter Milan are one of our toughest possible opponents in Pot 3, with former Blues Romelu Lukaku and Antonio Conte arriving in Milan this summer, while matching up with RB Salzburg would provide a repeat of our pre-season friendly against the Austrians this summer, which we won 5-3.
Of the possible Pot 4 opponents, Galatasaray would provide a swift return to Istanbul following our trip there in the Super Cup earlier this month. The Turkish capital is also the host city for this year’s final, which will be played at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium on 30 May 2020.
There are 10 teams in the draw that we could face for the first time in a competitive game - Borussia Dortmund, Dinamo Zagreb, Ajax, Lyon, RB Leipzig, RB Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow, Red Star Belgrade, Atalanta and Lille.
The draw will also establish the opposition for our Under-19s in the UEFA Youth League, which mirrors the Champions League group stage. Andy Myers takes charge of our youngsters in the competition this season looking to go one better than each of the two previous campaigns, in which we have finished as runners-up.
Below, we have six polls for you to vote on which team from each pot you want the Blues to face and which team you want us to avoid...
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