Not only have Chelsea's opponents in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stages been announced today, so too has the schedule of games. Here's what's on the slate for the Blues (expect most matches to be at 7:45 PM GMT unless something crazy happens):
- September 13th vs. Bayer Leverkusen
- September 28th at Valencia (Mestalla, Valencia)
- October 19th vs. Genk
- November 1st at Genk (Cristal Arena, Genk)
- November 23rd at Bayer Leverkusen (BayArena, Leverkusen)
- December 6th vs. Valencia.
So, Ballack comes back to London in less than three weeks, and a fortnight later Chelsea new boy makes his return to the Mestalla as Chelsea travel to Valencia for what's probably going to be the key game of the group. If Chelsea can get six points from their first two matches, they should cruise to first place, with the last match against Valencia at home something of a gimme. If they don't manage to notch two wins to start their campaign, though, things will be very much up in the air until the last two matches.
It would have been nice if Chelsea could have saved Valencia away for last and use it to blood the kids (hopefully after the group had been won), but the fixture schedule hasn't been so kind. Oh well. The two Genk games together are quite nice.