Wednesday 29


Cech does favour for mates

29th August 2019, 20:13 by Bobbie Jackson

Chelsea will feel the Champions League draw has been kind after being placed in Group H with Ajax, Valencia and Lille.

Chelsea will feel the Champions League draw has been kind after being placed in Group H with Ajax, Valencia and Lille.

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech was on stage to draw balls from pots which set up the group-stage rivalries.

The Blues were in the top pot after winning the Europa League last season, although their place in the Champions League would have been confirmed anyway after claiming third spot in the Premier League.

When considering some of the other big names in pots two, three and four, Chelsea will be offering their thanks to Cech for giving them a great shot at reaching the knockout phase.

Chelsea have enjoyed success in the elite European competition over recent years, having qualified for the tournament in 15 of the last 17 seasons.

They have only failed to advance beyond the group on one of those occasions while they went all the way to win the trophy in 2011-12.

Ajax are the only other side in Group H to have previously won the Champions League, lifting the title on four occasions, however, their last triumph came back in 1994-95.

The Dutch champions threatened to upset the odds last season when they beat Real Madrid and Juventus to earn a place in the semi-finals.

But a late comeback from Tottenham put an end to their hopes as the Premier League side completed a dramatic turnaround at the semi-final stage.

Following some big-name departures over the summer, Ajax are unlikely to be as strong in this year’s edition of the competition.

Valencia have reached the final on two occasions, losing in 2000 and 2001, and they will be looking to improve on last season’s group-stage exit.

Los Che finished behind Juventus and Manchester United in 2018-19 before exiting the Europa League at the last-four stage.

Lille return to the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2012-13 after finishing second in Ligue 1 last season.

Top scorer Nicolas Pepe was key for them last term but his move to Arsenal may leave them wanting in the final third.

Frank Lampard will look to become the eighth man to win the European Cup as a player and manager.

The opening round of fixtures will take place on September 17 and 18 with the final group matches to be played on December 10 and 11.

This article originated on sportinastorm.com

Bobbie Jackson is a reporter with an in-depth knowledge of football at all levels. A Blackpool supporter, Bobbie is also a keen rugby union, boxing, MMA and UFC follower.

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