Far be it from us to be presumptuous, but Chelsea and Wembley have been seen together more times in recent years than many celebrity couples.
It’s almost become something of a second home, which bodes well going into the coming season.
The 2010/11 Champions League Final takes place in HA9 next May, and the road there started in earnest this afternoon with a typically laborious Group Stage Draw.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have been placed in Group F, along with Olympique Marseille, Spartak Moscow, and MSK Zilina. As is most common, there’s more than one storyline involving the teams involved.
Marseille pose the most potent threat, and featured during the Blues’ maiden appearance in the competition back in 1999/00. The two clubs traded 1-0 home wins, with Robert Pires scoring from an impossible angle at the Stade Vélodrome, whilst Dennis Wise notched the winner in the return match at Stamford Bridge.
These days, OM are led by Didier Deschamps, who lined up against them for Chelsea a decade ago. Having led them to their first title in approaching two decades, the good times are certainly back in Southern France.
Then, of course, there’s Didier Drogba. A self-professed Marseille fan, he isn’t shy in revealing that he didn’t ever want to leave the club – expect those quotes to be spun out of context in the build-up to the match – the Ivorian will doubtless receive a rapturous welcome on his return.
Meanwhile, Tuesday 19th of October will bring about some bitter memories for Chelsea fans everywhere as the club returns to the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, scene of the 2008 Final.
Spartak Moscow will be the opponents on the plastic pitch on this occasion, and after a problematic spell in the middle of the decade, they are back in the big time and a prospect to be reckoned with, notably their Brazilian duo of Alex and Welliton.
The third team takes us back to the summer of 2003, and the first competitive match under the ownership of Roman Abramovich. Then, MSK Zilina of Slovakia posed a Qualifying Round obstacle, but were overcome 5-0 on aggregate. This time, they’ve reached the group stages for the first time, beating Sparta Prague in what was something of an upset.
All told, the draw could have been a lot tougher. Each team were amongst the bottom two seeds in their respective pots, and whilst there are threats throughout the opposing squads, you would hope that it should be a smooth route through to the knockout rounds.
From there, it’s up to fate. And Platini.
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