Chelsea supporters now know what the first leg of our grand European adventure this season will look like. The Blues were drawn in Group G, where we will meet Schalke 04 (whom we met last year), Sporting CP, and Maribor.
- Schalke, of course, are familiar opponents. We beat them home and away last season, and while they have some strong players they're among the weakest teams from Pot 2, and Chelsea were fairly lucky to end up with them. Julian Draxler and friends are definitely a good team, but they're hardly terrifying. At least four points in this for us.
- Sporting CP will be better-known to Chelsea supporters as Sporting Lisbon, original home of Cristiano Ronaldo. The third-place team in Liga Sagres last season, they've got some very good players (William Carvalho in central midfield has been linked to a big-money move for a while now, and I'm a big fan of Colombia's Fredy Montero as well), but they shouldn't be enough to cause us any serious trouble.
- Rounding out the group is Maribor, who beat Celtic 2-1 on aggregate to claim a spot in the group stages. They're a Slovenian team, which means we're going to have a bit of annoying travel -- I know Lisbon is further away, but at least Portugal is in the same time zone -- but other than that it's difficult to imagine them giving us too much trouble. Not that I know anything about them, because why would I be paying attention to Slovenian football?
A fairly straightforward group, with relatively limited travel. There wasn't going to be any question about our finishing first no matter who we drew, but this is undeniably easier than we might have gotten (Arsenal ended up with Borussia Dortmund and Galatasaray, for example), and so we're in very good shape.