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Champions League Group Stage Draw: Preview

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Now that all of the qualifying matches for the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League have been played, we can take a look at the potential teams Chelsea can end up with in the draw that takes place on Thursday August 25th. We had a preliminary look at this a few months ago, but Pots Three and Four have been shuffled around. Now we have rather firmer footing with which to look at the Blues preferred (and un-preferred, I guess) opponents.

(Pro tip: Mouseover the team names)

Pot One

We're in this one, so nothing to worry about here.

Pot Two

There are a number of good sides in this one, but the only team that stands out as especially dangerous is AC Milan - the rest are right about on the same level, at least in my opinion. Milan could probably cause Chelsea some problems, but they're probably overrated right now and I wouldn't have any huge fear of them pipping the Blues to the top spot in the group. They're actually probably the weakest 'best' team in any of the pots.

Pot Three

The best team in Pot Three is clearly Manchester City, whom Chelsea cannot face until t least the quarter finals on account of the fact that they're English. Lovely luck so far, eh? Glasgow Rangers used to be in here, but they went and got themselves knocked out ages ago, as did Copenhagen, while Fenerbache have withdrawn from contention. That leaves a few teams promoted from Pot Four, of which we should hope Chelsea might draw FC Basel or BATE Borisov. Olympiakos wouldn't be the worst draw in the world, and the rest of the teams start trailing off into Pot Two calibre, so probably best to avoid for simplicity's sake.

Pot Four

Oh good grief. What are Borussia Dortmund doing here? The defending Bundesliga champions are probably one of the best eight teams in Europe despite losing Nuri Sahin to Real Madrid (even if they did lose to Hoffenheim in week two). They're also immensely fun to watch. Chelsea had better hope they don't wind up in Dortmund's group, because then things go all crazy-pants. That's true of Napoli, but to a lesser extent. They might not be on the level of Milan and Inter, but they're certainly too good for Pot Four and thus best stayed clear of. Everyone else should be something of a pushover, although a trip to Trabzonspor doesn't enthuse me for flying-to-Turkey reasons and spelling concerns.

It would be rude of me not to add that this is still a possible group: FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund. That would basically be the best thing ever.

Anyway, what're y'all's ideal group stage opponents for Chelsea?