In their bid to relive the glory of lifting the Europa League trophy in 2012-13, Chelsea will have to face four rounds of two-legged knockout competition, plus a one-off final — so nine games total.
The first two, the first playoff challenge, will be against Swedish club Malmö FF in the Round of 32. These matches will take place on February 14th (away), and on February 21st (home).
The 23-time Swedish league champions finished third in the Allsvenskan — which takes place between March and November — this year.
In the Europa League group stages, they were drawn together with Belgian outfit Genk, Turkish club Besiktas and Norwish team Sarpsborg 08 in Group I. With two wins, three draws and one loss across the six games, they finished second with 9 points — just 2 points behind first-place Genk.
This will be the first meeting between Chelsea and Malmö FF. The Blues last faced Swedish opposition 19 years ago, in the Round of 32 of the Cup Winners Cup against Helsingborgs IF. Chelsea won 1-0 on aggregate over two legs.
Meanwhile, our city rivals Arsenal have been drawn against the runners-up from our group, BATE Borisov.
The full Europa League Round of 32 draw is as follows:
- Viktoria Plzen vs. Dinamo Zagreb
- Club Brugge vs. FC Salzburg
- Rapid Wien vs. Inter Milan
- Slavia Prague vs. Genk
- FC Krasnodar vs. Bayer Leverkusen
- FC Zurich vs. Napoli
- Malmö vs. Chelsea
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Frankfurt
- Celtic vs. Valencia
- Rennes vs. Real Betis
- Olympiakos vs. Dynamo Kyiv
- Lazio vs. Sevilla
- Fenerbahce vs. Zenit
- Sporting vs. Villarreal
- BATE vs. Arsenal
- Galatasaray vs. Benfica
Come on, you Blues!