After almost an hour and a half of the ceremony, Chelsea finally learned who their opponents would be in the group stage of the Champions League as the Blues embark on the defence of their European crown next month.
As draws go, there will be a lot of “I’ll take that” from Chelsea fans as their side drew Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg and Malmo having been placed in Group H from their Pot 1 slot as reigning champions.
Thomas Tuchel will be relatively pleased with how the starred-balls fell for him, drawn out by Blues legends Michael Essien and Branislav Ivanovic at the event in Istanbul.
It certainly could have been a lot tougher. Juventus are not the force they once were and could be without Cristiano Ronaldo if he leaves this summer, though they do have Max Allegri back in charge of the club.
Also, the Blues will come up against their former striker Alvaro Morata, who is now plying his trade in Turin.
Chelsea and Zenit St Petersburg have never played each other before but a trip to Russia is always a stern test. It does give the Blues an early chance to head to the venue of the final in May next year as well.
The final team to be drawn came from Pot 4 and it went right to the end with Chelsea drawing either Swedish side Malmo or Moldovan new boys Sheriff. It was the Swedes who were plonked into Group H and that was that, the last time they met was in 2019 in the Europa League.
The bonanza will get underway on September 14. We will know by the weekend and when Chelsea kick off against Liverpool what the schedule will be for the Blues, who have warned supporters not to make any travel arrangements for away games with the ongoing Covid restrictions.
Overall though, it was a good draw for the Blues and they will be pretty pleased with how things turned out.
Group A looks like the proverbial Group of Death with Man City, PSG and RB Leipzig all drawn together, Club Brugge the unfortunate side to be placed with that trio coming out of Pot Four.
For Chelsea, it looks positive. Of course, nothing is ever given in the Champions League and the last reigning champions to head out in the group stage was Chelsea back in 2013, though they did win the Europa League that season.
Some bookmakers have already clipped the Blues in from 17/2 (8.5) to 7/1 third favourites to retain their European crown this season, with PSG and Man City ahead of them.
Not many sides not named Real Madrid have managed to retain the most prestigious European club football title, but Chelsea will be handed the chance come mid-September when they get their campaign underway.
With Romelu Lukaku in tow and, who knows, another potential signing to arrive before the transfer window shuts, Tuchel and his charges will be as well-placed as anyone to give it a right good go this season.
Tuchel has reached the final two years in a row, losing one and gloriously winning the other. Bring on September.
Source by Football London