Chelsea didn't get the best of Champions League group stages draws Thursday. But they didn't get the worst one either. The Blues, coming from pot two, got Europa League winners Sevilla, Russian side Krasnodar who advanced through the playoff round, and French side Rennes which qualified automatically from their third-place finish in Ligue 1 last season to fill Group E.
Who They Didn't Get (Thankfully)
Chelsea can breathe a sigh of relief avoiding the heavy hitters in pot one like Bayern Munich, who thrashed them in the last 16 either side of the Coronavirus stoppage. They also avoided giants Real Madrid, Juventus, and PSG as winners of their respective leagues.
Chelsea could have gotten from pot three last season's UCL semifinalists RB Leipzig, the newly rejuvenated Inter Milan managed by former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte and led by former Blues striker Romelu Lukaku who is off to a hot start in Serie A, or even high fliers Atalanta. Thankfully they didn't.
Chelsea also avoided Borussia Monchengladbach from pot four with their fearsome striker duo of Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea under innovative manager Marco Rose.
The Blues certainly are odds on favorites to advance from the group, along with Sevilla. As group winners, though? Maybe not.
Chelsea Must Advance
Chelsea have underwhelmed to begin the season. They have only earned four points from three Premier League games. And they suffered a disappointing exit of the League Cup to rival Tottenham.
New signing Timo Werner finally scored his first goal against Spurs. Kai Havertz has slowly gotten up to speed in his first year with the Blues. Newcomer Ben Chilwell has only played in the Carabao Cup. Hakim Ziyech has yet to make his debut. Thiago Silva made a massive mistake in his Premier debut. And new keeper Edouard Mendy has only one game under his belt. Chelsea's new faces haven't hit the ground running, nor has Christian Pulisic who could return from injury against Palace this weekend.
All in all, Chelsea have not started the year as strongly as many expected. Manager Frank Lampard has a lot to sort out before the start of the Champions League later this month. However, he doesn't have much time to do it with the international break beginning after this weekend's game against Crystal Palace.
With six games in six consecutive domestic weeks, not including the November international break smack dab in the middle of the group stage, Lampard won't have much time to adjust either as the Blues play every weekend and midweek from here until December.
Because of that, Chelsea's draw has benefited them slightly. They aren't facing the best teams like Bayern or Juventus. But they aren't facing the worst like Zenit, Porto, Olympiacos, Ferencvaros, or Club Brugge either.
Chelsea have to advance out of the group. Anything less would amount to abject failure.