Chelsea's UEFA Champions League group was finalised earlier on Thursday, and while it's not the easiest draw in the world, it's far from a disaster as far as our opponents are concerned. The Blues ended up with Shakhtar Donetsk, defending Serie A champions Juventus as well as Danish Superliga winners Nordsjaelland. Now the dates have been released as well, so here's the Chelsea schedule:
September 19th: Chelsea vs. Juventus (Stamford Bridge)
October 2nd: FC Nordsjaelland vs. Chelsea (Parken Stadium)
October 23rd: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Chelsea (Donbass Arena)
November 7th: Chelsea vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Stamford Bridge)
November 20th: Juventus vs. Chelsea (Juventus Stadium)
December 5th: Chelsea vs. FC Nordsjaelland (Stamford Bridge).
September 19th looks pretty tasty. The Blues need three points from Juventus at home in order to feel comfortable about winning the group, so we'll know where we stand fairly early. The away match against Shakhtar is also huge -- if Chelsea end the first half with nine points we've got qualification more or less in the bag.
That trip to Ukraine is also sandwiched between two difficult Premier League fixtures. Chelsea will be at White Hart Lane to face Andre Villas-Boas and Tottenham Hotspur on October 20th, and then we host Manchester United the following Sunday. Chalk up that week as our biggest of the early season.
If things do go badly and Chelsea need to win in Turin, we'll have Manchester City at Stamford Bridge five days after that, so there's another interesting set of games looming in late November. Fun!