The 2019/20 Champions League draw has thrown up good news for fans looking to follow Chelsea over land and sea, as they and the team will need to cover less miles than in any previous campaign.
Having been handed journeys to France, Spain and the Netherlands to face Lille, Valencia and Ajax, that makes for a combined round trip of 2,408 miles for this season’s entire Champions League group stage. While that is still a hefty road trip for supporters and players alike, it is virtually a skip and a jump from west London compared to previous campaigns.
For example, last season’s Europa League group stage saw us facing Greek side PAOK, Hungarians Vidi and BATE of Belarus. Those three visits to Salonika, Budapest and Borisov involved a whopping 6,826 miles of travelling, with the return trip to Greece alone racking up more air miles than all three of our 2019/20 Champions League group stage away games combined.
However, our best-travelled Champions League group stage involved even greater distances, covering a whole 8,712 miles in 2015/16. At 1,640 miles, the round trip to Porto was easily our shortest journey of the three, being followed by matches at Dynamo Kiev (2,652 miles) and Maccabi Tel Aviv (4,420 miles).
Before this season, our shortest Champions League group stage road trip was 2,772 miles, and in a rather good omen that came in 2011/12, the same campaign which ended with us lifting the trophy for the first time. Even more promisingly, it also involved a trip to play Valencia, along with Bayer Leverkusen and Genk.
That was only six miles shorter than in 2005/06, though, when the lack of a rule separating teams from the same country in the group stage meant that in addition to facing Anderlecht and Seville-based Real Betis, we could leave the passports at home for the 350-mile round trip to Anfield to play Liverpool.
Valencia will be by far our longest journey journey this season, with the Spanish city 831 miles from London, but the Dutch capital Amsterdam is just 222 miles away and the quick hop across the Channel to Lille even shorter at only 151 miles.
That means when we face Lille in France on 2 October, it will be the shortest foreign away trip of all time in any competition, with the lowest distance before being the 197 miles to Anderlecht, coming in just two miles less than Rotterdam, where we faced Feyenoord in the short-lived second group stage on our Champions League debut in 1999/00.
Amazingly, the journey to Lille is so short that we will actually make seven longer away trips in the Premier League this season. In fact, only once have we had an away trip in European competition which was shorter than the upcoming visit to the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
However, with that being when we played Arsenal in the 2003/04 Champions League quarter-finals, the six miles between Stamford Bridge and the Gunners’ former home Highbury, where we triumphed 2-1 in the second leg to book our place in the semis for the first time, hardly counts.