Champions League 2015/16 profiles: Chelsea
Chairman Roman Abramovich has no doubt earmarked the Champions League as a priority, after the Premier League title returned to Stamford Bridge at the end of last season, and are 9/1 fourth favourites to win Europe’s elite club competition this term.
Domestic League: English Premier League
How they qualified: Won the league at a canter.
Best Champions League era performance: Under caretaker manager, Roberto Di Matteo, Chelsea won the tournament in the 2011/12 season, taking all by surprise with a rather average and ageing squad. Spurred on by captain John Terry at the back and goal-scoring legend Didier Drogba up front, the Blues beat Bayern Munich in their own backyard to lift the cup as massive underdogs.
Coach: The illustrious maverick that is Jose Mourinho, a two-time winner of the Champions League with FC Porto and Inter Milan.
Ins and outs: It took a stuttering start to the Premier League season for Abramovich to part with considerable cash. Despite bringing in Asmir Begovic to replace Petr Cech who left for Arsenal, only Radamel Falcao had come in on loan.
As such, Pedro Rodriguez, Abdul Baba Rahman, Papy Djilobodji, Michael Hector were notable recruits in the last couple of weeks of the transfer window, while Brazilian youngsters Nathan and Kenedy joined Serbian starlet Danilo Pantic earlier in the summer, relatively under the radar.
Familiar faces: Cesc Fabregas’ first season in blue was a hit and with the latter having won the Champions League before with Barcelona, he knows what it takes.
As ever, expect talisman Terry to recover from a shaky start to the season and help pull Chelsea through when they need him the most. He is also aware of what it takes, and will bleed blue for the cause if necessary.
Key players: Diego Costa is a true battler and proved this in his first season, also notching 20 goals. Having played a huge part in helping Atletico Madrid reach the final in the 2013/14 series of the competition, he is aware of what is required.
Emerging talent: We have seen talented French centre back, Kurt Zouma included in the starting lineup on a number of occasions so far this term, and he could be crucial to the team. His pace gives the Blues something they haven’t had in the heart of defence for a while and he could play a big role in the Champions League this term.
CL group and fixtures:
V Maccabi Tel Aviv (Home), 16th September
V FC Porto (Away), 29th September
V Dynamo Kiev (Away), 20th October
V Dynamo Kiev (Home), 4th November
V Maccabi Tel Aviv (Away), 24th November
V FC Porto (Home), 9th December