X

Tuesday 19
November

Chelsea

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.

Ajax

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.

Lille

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

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.

Rodrigo

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

Chelsea

Tomori ready to knuckle down at Chelsea

19th November 2019, 11:32

Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori says he is determined to add to his England cap after securing his first on Sunday evening.

Chelsea

Chelsea enter Berge battle

19th November 2019, 11:06

Chelsea have joined the battle to sign Genk midfielder Sander Berge.

Chelsea

Hazard unsurprised by Lampard start

18th November 2019, 10:27

Real Madrid playmaker Eden Hazard is adamant he has not been surprised by the start Frank Lampard has made as Chelsea manager.

Chelsea

Batshuayi still in love with Chelsea

18th November 2019, 05:17

Michy Batshuayi has declared his love and commitment to Chelsea despite the fact he is struggling for game time at the club.

Chelsea

Inter arrive to hammer out Giroud deal

17th November 2019, 08:23

Inter Milan are stepping up their pursuit of Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud after sporting director Piero Ausilio arrived in London to hold talks.

Chelsea

Winger in limbo as Chelsea return beckons

16th November 2019, 04:17

Victor Moses is facing an uncertain future following reports Fenerbahce could cut his loan spell short and send him back to Chelsea.

Recent Sport Headlines

Atletico Madrid

Atleti boosted by returning Felix

19th November 2019, 15:22

Atletico Madrid have been boosted by the return to training of star forward Joao Felix.

Southampton

Banger urges Saints bravery in survival fight

19th November 2019, 15:22

Southampton old boy Nicky Banger says the team need to be "brave" in their bid to avoid the drop this season.

Juventus

Chiellini delivers injury update

19th November 2019, 14:42

Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini says he hopes to return from a serious knee injury "between February and March".

Reading

Wolves reignite interest in Royals striker

19th November 2019, 14:42

Wolves are expected to return with a fresh offer for Reading forward Danny Loader in January.

Horse Racing

Houghton optimistic of Kempton glory

19th November 2019, 14:29

Trainer Eve Johnson Houghton is hopeful Accidental Agent can put in a winning performance at Kempton on Wednesday.

Horse Racing

Big Blue primed for Cheltenham trip

19th November 2019, 14:20

Trainer David Eustace is looking forward to seeing Big Blue in action this side of the pond ahead of a potential Cheltenham trip.

Everton

Everton ace wants more despite first-team return

19th November 2019, 14:08

Tom Davies may have returned to the Everton starting line-up in recent weeks, but believes he can still improve and go beyond the level he is at.

Huddersfield Town

Cowley keen to see Terriers’ hard work pay off against Blues

19th November 2019, 14:08

Danny Cowley has challenged his Huddersfield players to make sure their warm-weather training does not go to waste when they face Birmingham on Saturday.