Chelsea have been drawn in a relatively easy group compared to some other English teams, namely Manchester City and Arsenal. However, the Champions League can be a tricky affair if taken lightly. Chelsea have their fair share of embarrassments in the Champions League at the hands of some minnows.
So what should be the expectations from the Blues? Considering that their opponents are FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev, and Maccabi Tel Aviv, the men in Blue are expected to once again top their Group.
Everyone knows that it is much easier to assume than to actually win the group. Porto for one can be a very formidable opponent, especially at their home ground. Last year, they were a magnificent team under Julien Lopetugi. Dynamo Kiev may not be as threatening but can certainly have a lucky day if the Blues are not focused and sharp. Tel Aviv are a curious case, and should be fun to watch.
Let’s have a look at the opponents and see what they have to offer:
Acquainted to Chelsea fans as the team with which Jose Mourinho won the Champions League back in the day. FC Porto were a great team last time around, going deeper in the competition than the Blues themselves. Their manager Julien Lopetugi, the one time goalkeeper was great last season. He guided a mediocre team to the top of his group, through the round of 16 and into the Quarterfinals of the Champions League.
They did not lose a single match in the group stages. Only Shakhtar Donetsk managed to draw the games with them. The other two teams, Athletic Bilbao and BATE were both beaten handily, twice.
In the round of 16, they drew 1-1 away to Basel before decimating the Swiss team 4-0 at home. The result? A magnificent 5-1 aggregate victory.
Moving on to the Quarterfinals, they managed the biggest shock of the competition in beating 2013 Champions Bayern Munich by a 3-1 scoreline at home. However, the celebrations did not last any longer as Pep Guardiola’s side beat Porto 6-1 at the Allianz Arena. However, it was a run worth remembering for years and provides hope to Porto supporters.
Jackson Martinez drove the team forward but others like Aboubakar, Hector Herrera and Yacine Brahimi helped in balancing the responsibilities. Of the above named players, only Martinez has departed and was the only player of these above 25 years of age. The Colombian will surely be missed since moving to Atletico Madrid but Porto like other Portuguese clubs know how to replace their stars. Alex Sandro will also be missed by a formidable defensive line.
They have some new players in the legendary Iker Casillas and (non legendary) Osvaldo of Roma and Southampton in the past. The squad is sprinkled with youth in the likes of Ruben Neves and Christian Tello.
At home and on their day, Porto are a match for any team in the world, despite being a selling club. They will be tough customers for the Blues and the Blues would do well to get points at the Dragon Stadium.
Trivia: Chelsea and Porto have faced 6 times. Only once have the Portuguese side come out with a win.
Serhiy Rebrov, all of 41 years has the reigns of the Ukrainian Champions. The team was in news during last season’s Europa League campaign due to wrong reasons. The Crowd was uncontrollable in a league match and Kiev were asked to keep parts of their stadium closed.
However that does not mean that they will be an easy opponent, especially at home where the crowd creates an atmosphere of madness. It could unsettle the faint hearted. However, troubles in Ukraine mean that the team have not got the appeal to attract any noticeable stars this transfer window.
Besides, Arsene Wenger was seen toying with the idea of signing their star midfielder Andriy Yarmolenko only to be rebuffed by the player. However, that does show that the team have several players of European calibre and will not be mere travellers.
However, Chelsea can be certain of some points against the European Champions. They will certainly be an easier opponent than Porto. Nonetheless, one must never forget that this is the team that beat Everton 5-2 in the Europa League round of 16 and hence need to be respected for what they are: decent opponents.
Trivia: Dynamo Kiev have never played against Chelsea before.
Maccabi Tel Aviv:
Never before have Chelsea played this team. Their boasting rights? They are the most iconic football club of Israel, if that is of any significance. On another note, they are the ones who slayed Basel out of the Champions League group stages this season.
This is the first time in 11 years that the Israeli team have reached the group stage of the Champions League and that too based on away goals. But then again, who is to say they can’t go farther and be this season’s giant slayers?
On a more informed basis, they are the whipping boys of the Group G this season and should end up as such in all likelihood, that is unless Zlatan decides to switch sides to the Israeli team to teach Chelsea’s cry babies a lesson.
Frankly, its an easy group. Optimistically, Chelsea should win it. Really, anything can happen in the Champions League. Let’s hope for a deep run i.e. Semi-finals and anything is possible after that.
You can read the complete details of the Champions League draw in this report!
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