The draw for the group stages of the most prestigious (/scoffs) competition, that is Europa League, was held today. Chelsea, in Group L, have been drawn against PAOK of Greece, BATE Borisov of Belarus and MOL Vidi from Hungary.
The exact schedule will be determined shortly.
The rest of the draw:
The Europa League may not be the most desirable competition for Chelsea to be in, but now we’re in it, we’re certainly going to try to win it.
We’re also going to try to ensure there are plenty of people in the stands and making some noise, by keeping ticket prices very reasonable. As announced earlier this week, adults will only have to pay £20 to watch Chelsea’s group stage matches at home. The prices rise to £25 for the last 32 and last 16 matches, and £30 for the quarter-finals and semi-finals, should Chelsea get to that stage of the tournament. For juniors and seniors, it will be just £5 for the group stages, £12 for the last 32 and last 16 games and £15 for the quarter and semi-finals.
The last (and only) time we were in this competition we came out eventual winners, beating Benfica in the final in Amsterdam in 2013. The situation is slightly different this time, as Chelsea have to play in the Europa League group stage for the first time as well. In 2012-13, Chelsea were dropped into the Round of 32 after finishing third behind Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League group stage.
Chelsea’s group certainly looks easy enough on paper to progress into the knockout rounds, hopefully while giving the likes of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi plenty of playing time. The Blues have been named favorites by the bookies, ahead of Arsenal and Sevilla.
That said, all three teams Chelsea have been drawn against got here by losing in Champions League qualifying rounds, so they have a certain level of expected quality as the second placed team in Greece (PAOK) and the champions of Belarus (BATE) and Hungary (Vidi FC, née Videoton).
Also, let’s hope that no owners charge on to the pitch with their gun in their hands...
Welcome to Europa, Chelsea!