Chelsea face Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Nordsjaelland in Champions League Group E

The current European champions have been handed a difficult draw, with the Ukrainians joining the Italian giants and the Danish minnows
Liam Twomey, Chelsea Expert

Roberto Di Matteo will be less than delighted with a group which affords his side little alternative but to hit the ground running. Shakhtar Donetsk provide a stern footballing challenge and a formidable return journey to the Ukraine, but Juventus are the main threat. Their coach Antonio Conte may be banned for 10 months, but the Old Lady remain the strongest side in Italy, and return to the Champions League armed with the confidence garnered from an unbeaten Serie A season. FC Nordsjaelland are expected to play the role of ‘whipping boys’ in their maiden campaign, but their unfamiliarity may prove an advantage. Plenty to ponder, then, for the European champions.

SEASON 2011-12
Europe: Champions League winners
Manager: Roberto Di Matteo

Appointed: 2012

Stadium: Stamford Bridge


Best Champions League performance:
Winners (2012)
Eden Hazard

The Belgium international appeared to be on his way to one of the Manchester clubs, but eventually opted to join Chelsea instead, much to the delight of the Blues' fans.

The versatile attacker has not disappointed in the opening weeks of the 2012-13 season with some fine performances, and Hazard is likely to be one of the stars of the Champions League this term.

SEASON 2011-12
Europe: Champions League group stage
Manager: Mircea Lucescu

Appointed: 2004

Stadium: Donbass Arena

Capacity: 52,187

Best Champions League performance: Quarter-finals (2010-11)
Darijo Srna

Despite boasting a plethora of Brazilians, captain Darijo Srna is the man opposition will want to hamstring if they want to stop the Ukrainians from playing.

He's been a key member of the squad for almost a decade now and has flourished in his role as on-field leader, guiding Shakhtar to the 2009 Uefa Cup. Deadly from set pieces, the Croatia international sets the tone for Lucescu's side, his work-rate and creativity providing those around him with the chance to shine.

Kris Voakes, Italian football writer

Juventus will naturally be wary, having not played in the competition since December 2009, but their draw has to be seen as a positive one.

Chelsea may well be the champions, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are Europe's strongest side, and the Bianconeri will fancy their chances at Juventus Stadium if they can impress their style of play onto the game from the early stages. The clashes with Shakhtar Donetsk will be tricky, especially away from home, where the long trip has to be taken into consideration, while any team not taking six points from Nordsjaelland will be very disappointed.

SEASON 2011-12
Europe: N/A
Manager: Antonio Conte (Massimo Carrera on matchdays)

Appointed: 2011

Stadium: Juventus Stadium

Capacity: 41,000

Best Champions League performance: Winners (1984-85, 1995-96)
Andrea Pirlo

After his long, illustrious career with Milan came to an end in 2011, Juventus were quick to snap up the metronomic midfielder, and their rewards have been huge.

The Italy international was the inspiration behind their magnificent unbeaten league campaign last term, with his leadership from the centre and his ability to place the ball almost anywhere he wants. He also followed that up with an influential role as Italy made the Euro 2012 final during the summer.

SEASON 2011-12
Europe: Europa League play-off round
Manager: Kasper Hjulmand

Appointed: 2011

Stadium: Farum Park

Capacity: 10,100

Best Champions League performance: First appearance
Nicolai Stokholm

A veteran at 36 years of age, Stokholm has been at Farum Park since completing a switch from Viking FK in 2009, and was handed the captain's armband a week after his arrival. His effect on the team has been plain for all to see.

Within 18 months of being at his new club, they had won the Danish cup, which they backed up a year later, and last season he led the team to their first ever league title. A former Denmark international, his experience and know-how will be essential if Hjulmand's underdogs are to avoid a demoralising group stage exit.