Champions League openers

Chelsea begin our European campaign at home to Qarabag and ahead of Tuesday night’s game, we look back at five memorable Champions League group stage openers.

The Blues are competing in Europe’s premier club competition for the 15th time and we typically get off to a good start.

Only three times have we began a Champions League season away from home, winning on each occasion, and the 11 matches at home have resulted in six victories and only one defeat. Here are a few of our favourites.

AC Milan, 1999/00

Our first-ever Champions League group game was against the mighty AC Milan, then five times winners of the competition. Stamford Bridge has always been a sight to behold on European nights, but this was something else – and the game lived up to expectations, despite finishing goalless. Chelsea matched one of football’s legendary clubs blow for blow and had Zola’s toe poke found net instead of woodwork, an already remarkable evening would have an even bigger chapter in the club’s folklore.

 

Bordeaux, 2008/09

Luiz Felipe Scolari holds a unique record at Chelsea Football Club, having won his debut match in three competitions by a 4-0 scoreline, and this Bordeaux side were blown away by a classy Blues performance featuring headers from Frank Lampard and Joe Cole, plus goals from Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka against their compatriots. It was a successful campaign as we went on to reach the semi-finals before a controversial exit against Barcelona.

 

Bayer Leverkusen, 2011/12

Patience was the order of the day for the Blues in this one, but our efforts finally paid off courtesy of an unlikely first goalscorer. David Luiz burst out from the back and his run was rewarded when Fernando Torres picked him for a sweeping finish. The Blues No9 provided our second, too, for Juan Mata shortly before full-time. No Chelsea fan needs reminding of how this thrilling campaign came to a climax in Munich...

 

Juventus, 2012/13

Although this match ultimately ended in a disappointing 2-2 draw, it featured one of the most spectacular full Chelsea debuts of all time from Oscar. The Brazilian announced himself to Blues fans with an extravagant brace against Juventus on his Champions League debut, the second of which, a dipping, bending strike after an outrageous turn, earned him a Goal of the Season award. He loved the opening day of a Champions League campaign during his time at the Bridge, including our most recent...

 

Maccabi Tel Aviv, 2015/16

After a tricky start to the domestic season, Chelsea thumped our Israeli opponents with four different goalscorers in a 4-0 victory. Willian converted a free-kick early on, beginning a sensational run of set-piece goals in Europe, and a penalty from Oscar doubled our lead before Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas rounded off the scoring after the break. We eventually went on to be eliminated in the last 16 by Paris Saint Germain, but how will the Blues fare this season on our return to continental action?