Monday 16


A closer look at Chelsea’s Champions League opponents

30th August 2019, 15:48 by Gareth Freeman

Chelsea have arguably been handed the toughest draw of the English clubs in the Champions League with Ajax, Lille and Valencia joining them in Group H.

The Stamford Bridge club are rated as the favourites with the bookmakers to top the group but Frank Lampard’s men will face a few tests in the opening round of Europe’s top tournament.


Dutch champions Ajax were the surprise package in the Champions League last season as they reached the last four, only to be dumped out by Spurs in heartbreaking fashion with a Lucas Moura goal at the death proving the difference.

The Amsterdam giants have lost some of their stars from last season as Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt left for Barcelona and Juventus respectively, while Kasper Dolberg is now at Nice, but they remain a quality team regardless.

Andre Onana

Keeper Andre Onana played a key role in helping Ajax reach the semi-finals last season and was linked with a summer exit, but instead signed a new deal at the Ajax Arena.

The shot-stopper remains a vital member of the Ajax team and has already proved crucial in Europe this season as he pulled off a number of saves to help his side claim a 0-0 draw in the searing Cypriot heat at APOEL Nicosia in qualifying.

Hakim Ziyech

Attacking midfielder Hakim Ziyech was expected to join De Jong and De Light in departing Ajax this summer but he snubbed interest from Sevilla, deciding it didn’t represent a step up to join the La Liga club.

Ziyech hit five goals in 17 games in Europe for Ajax last term and has started this season with a bang with two goals in four games in all competitions, and if Chelsea are to get the better of the Eredivisie club in the group stages they will have to work out a way to keep the Moroccan quiet.


French outfit Lille are back in the big time in Europe for the first time since 2012 as they finished best of the rest behind Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 last term.

Les Dogues have lost Nicolas Pepe to Arsenal over the summer but a familiar face could come back to haunt Chelsea when these sides face off in the group stages.

Loic Remy

Former Blues striker Loic Remy joined Lille last summer and managed a modest haul of five goals in 25 games last season. The 32-year-old should have a bit more responsibility this season after Pepe’s exit, and forwards do have a habit of scoring against their old clubs so he could be the biggest threat to Chelsea in the Lille side.


Valencia have reached the Champions League group stages for the second successive season and on paper probably have the strongest squad Chelsea will come up against in Group H.


Former Benfica man Rodrigo, who spent a season on loan in England with Bolton as a youngster, is the key threat in the Los Che attack.

Valencia have plenty of attacking talent with Denis Cheryshev, Kevin Gameiro and Maxi Gomez among their options but Rodrigo is arguably their standout performer up front.

Geoffrey Kondogbia and Francis Coquelin

Valencia have a solid defence and holding midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia and Francis Coquelin, formerly of Arsenal, are important cogs in their back line machine.

If Chelsea are to get the better of Valencia they will have to find a way through their mean defence, and beating Kondogbia and Coquelin is likely to be the first part of that particular puzzle.

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Gareth Freeman is an experienced journalist who can offer in-depth knowledge on a host of sports, especially football, tennis, snooker and basketball.

More Chelsea


Abraham refusing to rule out Nigeria switch

16th September 2019, 05:00

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham has not ruled out playing for Nigeria as his international future remains unresolved for now.


Lampard gives injury updates on Chelsea stars

16th September 2019, 04:30

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard says Callum Hudson-Odoi is closing in on a return to action but has not set a date for his first game back.


Does Abraham deserve England call?

15th September 2019, 16:57

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has suggested Tammy Abraham deserves an England call-up, and Gareth Southgate could oblige when he names his next squad.


Chelsea boss Lampard lavishes praise on Abraham

14th September 2019, 18:22

Frank Lampard has lauded the performance of Chelsea's hat-trick hero Tammy Abraham in Saturday's 5-2 win at Wolves.


Wolves 2-5 Chelsea

14th September 2019, 17:57

Chelsea extended their unbeaten run in the Premier League to four games courtesy of a 5-2 thrashing of Wolves at Molineux.


Abraham warned he could lose Chelsea place

14th September 2019, 13:51

Frank Lampard has warned Tammy Abraham he needs to maintain his form because Michy Batshuayi and Olivier Giroud are after his place.

Recent Sport Headlines


Barca lining up swoop for Reds ace

16th September 2019, 13:02

Barcelona are reported to be showing an interest in Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and could make their move at the end of the season.

Manchester City

De Bruyne insists title race still wide open

16th September 2019, 13:02

Manchester City midfielder Kevin de Bruyne has warned Liverpool not to get carried away despite leading by five points.


Injured Kent backed for flying return

16th September 2019, 12:34

Ryan Kent is set to be sidelined “for at least a few weeks” due to injury but team-mate Andy Halliday has backed him to return to top form quickly.

Tottenham Hotspur

Aurier now ‘happy’ to stay with Spurs

16th September 2019, 12:32

Serge Aurier claims his "happy to stay" at Tottenham after admitting a "personal situation" was the reason he asked to leave in the summer.


Lennon confirms Celtic’s interest in Tottenham ace Wanyama

16th September 2019, 12:04

Celtic manager Neil Lennon has revealed he wanted to sign Tottenham's Victor Wanyama in the summer.

Norwich City

Reports in Finland: Canaries to be inundated with Christmas bids for ‘Santa’ Pukki

16th September 2019, 12:02

Christmas has come early for Norwich fans with the form of Teemu Pukki boosting City's survival hopes, but sources in Finland believe bids will be made for him.

Manchester United

Matic ready for first-team battle at Manchester United

16th September 2019, 11:34

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic says he will not become disruptive in the dressing room as he tries to win his place back.

Inter Milan

Pundit axed over Lukaku ‘bananas’ comment

16th September 2019, 11:34

An Italian TV football pundit has been axed after making a racist comment about Romelu Lukaku.