Bold Predictions for Chelsea's 2013-14 Champions League Campaign

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Bold Predictions for Chelsea's 2013-14 Champions League Campaign
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With the help of Luis Figo and slightly elderly former Celtic hero Billy McNeill, the draw of the Champions League group stages was finally completed.

Four English teams were in the pot, and while there were some difficult teams to be paired up against, it was Chelsea who received the kindest draw. This campaign, London rivals Arsenal experienced what is commonly known as "The Group of Death."

The Blues will be facing some familiar opposition in this year's competition, as they beat both FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest on the way to their unexpected Europa League triumph. They will face a tough battle for top spot, though, with German heavyweights Schalke sure to provide a stern test for Jose Mourinho's men.

Of course, the West London club will be seen as the nailed-on favourites due to their past success in the competition, as well as bolstering their squad with the arrivals of the likes of Samuel Eto'o and Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala.

And today, we take a look at some bold predictions for the club ahead of an exciting 2013-14 Champions League campaign. Can Mourinho lead Chelsea to their second European triumph?

 

Win all six group games

It's long been a target for Chelsea to maintain a 100 percent record during the group stage, but after a tough few years with the group stage draw, it's fair to say there is no better time to try to achieve it.

Unlike last season, where the Blues faced difficult trips to Juventus and Shakhtar Donetsk, winning at Basel and Steaua Bucharest will certainly be a more realistic target. They won just one of their three away games last season—a 4-1 victory over debutants FC Nordsjaelland—with disappointing defeats coming in Italy and Ukraine to send them crashing out.

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Perhaps a tough task lies ahead at Schalke's Gelsenkirchen stadium, where the German club's passionate fans were a key part in inspiring the team to finishing fourth last season in the Bundesliga. That said, Jens Keller's men only achieved their first win of the season with a 2-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen, having previously failed to win any of the opening three matches.

Nevertheless, the squad has a lot of strength in depth, and even with Romelu Lukaku moving out on loan, Samuel Eto'o's arrival will unquestionably add a significant amount of quality to Mourinho's attacking options, making the quest for a 100 percent record all the more easier to attain.

 

Fernando Torres to challenge for Top Goalscorer

Other than Jose Mourinho, nobody really knows who will be his first-choice striker at Stamford Bridge, although we gather one name is already out of the running.

Demba Ba's move to Arsenal on deadline day fell through because of the threat posed by Ba and new signing Mesut Ozil. According to Jack De Menezes of The Independent, the Chelsea boss said: "We didn't accept Arsenal's offer because the signing of Ozil makes them title contenders." 

And despite keeping the Senegalese striker, it appears Mourinho does not see him as an attacking option to count on. With Romelu Lukaku leaving for Everton on a season-long loan, it now leaves Mourinho with two world-class strikers, Fernando Torres and Samuel Eto'o, to battle it out for the lone forward role.

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The Spaniard was a key part of Chelsea's Europa League triumph last seasonscoring six goals in nine games, including the opening goal in the 2-1 victory over Benfica in the finaland has enjoyed more luck in front of goal in Europe.

It's expected that the Portuguese tactician will rotate the two like he did with Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain at Real Madrid, with one being the main choice for the bigger games. Eto'o is now 32 and, despite his incredible goalscoring record, he may have to accept that Torres has gained the upper hand with his superb strike in the European Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich.

 

Chelsea to face Real Madrid in the final

Never mind the prospect of Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich side facing his former club, Barcelona, if Chelsea were to face Real Madrid, it would be the perfect matchup in the final.

It bears no reminder that Jose Mourinho ended his three-year reign with the Spanish giants this summer, leaving without a trophy for the first time in his managerial career, before moving back to Chelsea this summer. And to make it even more interesting, former Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti is now in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu. 

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Blues have strengthened their squad over the summer with five new signings, including Andre Schurrle, Willian and Eto'o, and to think that they could be contenders is not as far-fetched as it may seem.

Real Madrid have also undergone something of a transition, with Gonzalo Higuain, Mesut Ozil and Raul Albiol all leaving the club this summer, but more importantly, the arrivals of Gareth Bale and Isco will add world-class quality to their ranks.

Don't be surprised to see these two battle it out in the latter stages of the competition, and if the two sides were to be matched up, you can expect drama both on and off the pitch.

 

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