It is easy to look at the Danish side and forget the other two teams in this group but only two go through and there are three teams all more than capable of beating each other in this group. Chelsea may struggle to topple Juventus at the top of the group but Roberto Di Matteo has strength in depth that should see them through, even if they do come unstuck in the Ukraine.
UEFA Cup Winners : (1) 2009
UEFAChampions League Quarter Finalists: 2010-11.
Qualified: Ukrainian champions
One of the most infamous away days in European football has become the trip to Eastern Ukraine to face off with Shakthar Donetsk. Since first appearing in the competition the team has come on leaps and bounds in European football with a mixture of home-grown talent and Eastern European/ Brazilian imports and they have developed a reputation as an attacking minded side, dangerous on the counter attack.
While players such as Willian, Luiz Adriano and Fernandinho bring obvious levels of flair the robust and consistent performances of Dmytro Chygrynskiy and captain Darijo Srna make them dangerous not only in the Donbass, but anywhere. Chelsea must be careful against the Ukrainian side.
UEFA Champions League: Winners (2) 1984–85, 1995–96; Runners-up (5): 1972–73; 1982–83; 1996–97; 1997–98; 2002–03
UEFA Cup Winners' Cup: Winners (1)1983–84
UEFA Cup: Winners (3)1976–77, 1989–90, 1992–93
Qualified: Italian champions
After a two year absence Juventus return to the pinnacle of European competition and they do so with real hopes of success. Despite the internal issues involving Antonio Conte and the failure to bring in a star striker this summer Juve have still managed a brilliant start to the campaign this season.
The form of Andrea Pirlo, the general of their midfield is always a massive influence on the rest of the team but Giorgio Chiellini, Claudio Marchisio and Mirko Vucinic are also dangerous for the Bianconeri.
However their recent European form has not been great, dumped out by Bordeaux at their last Champions League appearance in the Group Stage they also have bad memories of West London clubs as Chelsea knocked them out the year prior to the French exit and the Old Lady went down to Fulham in a thrilling Third Round Europa League encounter in 2009-10. They will also want to avoid a repeat of their 2010-11 Europa League Group stage campaign where they drew all their games against Lech Poznan, Red Bull Salzburg and Manchester City to finish on 6 points and exit the tournament.
UEFA Champions League: N/A
UEFA Cup: First round: 2008-09
Qualified: Danish champions
A bit of a fairy tale here as, owing to FC Copenhagen’s recent European exploits the Danish champions receive automatic qualification for the Champions League, but to everybody’s surprise it was FC Nordsjaelland who pipped Copenhagen to the prize and secure their first ever European Cup berth.
There previous best in Europe is a first round appearance in the old UEFA Cup format, where they were hammered by Olympiakos 7-0 on aggregate, so they will hope to improve on that this season.
During their relatively short 21 years of existence the side has developed a reputation for being self-sufficient, relying on talent development to thrive in the Danish Superliga. Players include the son of Swansea manager Michael ; Andreas Laudrup, Nikolai Stokholm, Kasper Lorentzon, Soren Christensen, Jores Okore and Andreas Bjelland and should not be under-estimated, especially at their poky 10,000 capacity stadium.
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image: © Julian Mason