Like many football fans, our regular columnist Pat Nevin is eyeing up today’s Champions League group stage draw and giving his personal view on who he would enjoy facing and any potential group of death…
So today we find out who Chelsea will get in the Champions League group stage this season. I actually think this is my favourite draw in football, even above domestic cups and World Cup draws. In this draw there is no need to fake it, every one of the last 32 teams is interesting in their own right.
Read: Champions League draw: Which teams can Chelsea get?
So as we all know we are in Pot 1 which is obviously the one to be in if you want the best chance to progress. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus, Bayern Munich and of course Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are all worth avoiding this early in Frank’s tenure. Not that we would fear them, but some more prep time might be helpful as we build the team.
So who should we fear, is there a possible Group of Death and if so, who does it include for us? From Pot 2 we can’t get Spurs but clearly there is the formidable shadow of Real Madrid and of course their Eden Hazard. It actually still hurts to type that.
They have bought big and might not be finished yet either. To be honest, I would be just as concerned by Atletico Madrid with Diego Costa turning up at the Bridge in a bit of a mood. There isn’t actually a weak side in Pot 2 but Ajax have lost some quality over the summer. You just take what you get.
Pot 3 is where it gets very interesting and we could really do without drawing Inter Milan with Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku on the prowl. Surprise surprise, they are playing three at the back this season and we know how well Antonio’s teams are organised. Anyone who watched our pre-season 5-3 win over Salzburg also in Pot 3 will have learnt just about nothing I am afraid. They hardly played any of their starting line-up at the outset of that one. They could be dangerous.
From this Pot 3, I reckon Olympiacos might be a good team to get. There will certainly be no lack of atmosphere home or away but I would be confident of getting three points at the Bridge.
Pot 4 has more danger lurking than you might expect. RB Leipzig are no mugs and Galatasaray always provide a warm welcome to any visiting sides. You need nerves of steel for that one. Fortunately our lads have that.
Atalanta and Red Star Belgrade may prove the most troublesome to visit and come away with three points. I went to Red Star v Liverpool back in 2018 and I am not sure if I have ever experienced a more incredible atmosphere in a football ground in my life. If we get them and you are a regular travelling Chelsea fan, do not miss this one. It really is one of the world’s great football spectacles and experiences. Lokomotiv Moscow I do not want (if they get through because of the travelling and the winter conditions over there)
So the Group I do not want is Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Galatasaray The group I wouldn’t mind is Benfica, Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade.
Whatever it is, it will be an adventure and an exciting new one for many of our young players.
Buy a Chelsea Membership now and enjoy priority ticket access to all our Champions League games this season. Click here to buy.