On Thursday, the world's most prestigious club competition announced it's group stages pitting together Europe's elite clubs against one another. The UEFA Champions League, which has been in the qualifications stage since early summer now gains more interest as the bigger clubs have entered the fold for the following months. Prior to the draw, captain John Terry captured his second consecutive defender of the year award.
For Chelsea, who were dire minutes away from booking their second consecutive trip against Manchester United in the final last year their group stage will not be easy.The west London club have been drawn together with FC Porto, Atletico Madrid and APOEL Nicosia in group D.
While considered a fair draw since they missed out on clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter and AC Milan, Carlo Ancelotti's men will have their work cut out for them. The Italian was brought in by the club specifically to obtain the European trophy which is all that is missing in the club's museum.
Their biggest threat will most likely be FC Porto who are the reigning champions of the Liga Sagres. They also won the competition in 2003-2004 with former Chelsea boss José Mourinho who like Ancelotti was brought in to take the club to Europe's main event. Athletico Madrid who like Chelsea have only been runners-up haven't tasted finals play since 1973-1974 but have featured in the competition 16 times.
Surely the weakest link in the group is APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus who make their first ever appearance in the group stages and will host Chelsea in the opening game on September 15. Chelsea will have their work cut out for them regardless of opposition as Europe's highest honor doesn't come easily but no mistake about it, group D is surely one to watch.