Well, Chelsea have managed an easy group for themselves, which just gives their supporters a bit more time to get their hopes up that this is their year. Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, and Genk are all quality competition, but nothing the Blues shouldn't be able to handle, even if Andre Villas-Boas hasn't had the opportunity to crouch on the touchlines in front of the Champions League cameras before.
Valencia won't have as easy a time of it this year -- last, they just needed to finish second to Manchester United by disposing with Rangers and Bursaspor. No real pressure. Now they've got to face Leverkusen, runners up to the Bundesliga title last season, and a fairly even match for the Spanish side. Genk, meanwhile, will likely be looking to surprise the bigger names of Group E.
Out before it starts
Yeah, this one's got to be Genk. Their best player, midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, is out injured, although he should return in a few weeks. But with this competition, well, even the champions of the Belgium league are not likely to make it far. Shame, really, as their away kits are bright pink.
Sorry, Europa League for you
It's a close call between Valencia and Bayer Leverkusen, but my Magic Eight ball says the German side will drop down to Europa. Goalkeeper Rene Adler has a knee injury that will keep him out of action until October, with 19 year old Bernd Leno deputizing until then. Not exactly the solid experience Leverkusen will be looking for in the Champions League.
Advancing to the Knockout Stage are…
Chelsea is the easy call here. They've got a strong squad, especially with the addition of Juan Mata earlier in the week (who will now face his former team, Valencia). Plus, Villas-Boas knows that his job is on the line here. Roman Abramovich wants that Champions League trophy -- failure to move out of the group stages would be seen as utter failure for the Blues.
Player to watch
Chelsea v Valencia, if only to see the play of both Mata and Canales, who were teammates in Spain's U-21s. Could be interesting.