PMB: Chelsea v Qarabag - talking points and numbers

The Champions League group stage returns across Europe today and the Blues are among the first in action. Club historian Rick Glanvill and club statistician Paul Dutton welcome the midweek competition…



So where were we before Paris Saint-Germain so rudely interrupted us two season ago? As Antonio Conte has said, now we are back, Chelsea must make the Champions League ‘our home’ again.

That reacquaintance begins against a team that is something of an unknown quantity, not least because the scheduled domestic league game for Champions League debutants Qarabag was postponed last weekend, and it is 17 days since they played a match that could be watched.

The visitors are Europa League regulars though. In the 2015/16 competition they put the pressure on Spurs all the way at home, losing to a late goal. They also drew 1-1 with Monaco in Azerbaijan and lost by a single goal in the return. In last season’s competition, the Horsemen (Qarabag’s nickname) beat PAOK home and away but lost heavily away to Fiorentina and Liberec. They may catch a fancied Group C by surprise, and Chelsea will not want to be that prized scalp.

Prior to that Paris defeat in the last Champions League game in 2016, the Blues had enjoyed a seven-match unbeaten run in west London. With three very strong sides vying for two knockout round places, the comforts of home could be hugely important in Group C.


This is the 12th time in 15 Champions League campaigns that our opening fixture has been at Stamford Bridge, and the 11th in the past 12.

No one should consider a Champions League win a foregone conclusion, especially at the start of the competition. It bears recalling that Chelsea’s victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv two years ago was our first at the Bridge on the opening night of the group stage for four years. One of those opening night draws, in 2012, was of course against a Juve side whose manager that season was Antonio Conte.

First home games in Champions League group stage
2015/16 Maccabi Tel Aviv W 4-0 Willian; Oscar pen; Diego Costa; Fabregas
2014/15 Schalke D 1-1 Fabregas
2013/14 Basel L 1-2 Oscar
2012/13 Juventus D 2-2 Oscar 2
2011/12 Bayer Leverkusen W 2-0David Luiz; Mata
2010/11 Marseille W 2-0 Terry; Anelka pen
2009/10 Porto W 1-0Anelka
2008/09 Bordeaux W 4-0Lampard; Cole; Malouda; Anelka
2007/08 Rosenborg D 1-1Shevchenko
2006/07 Werder Bremen W 2-0 Essien; Ballack pen

The Blues have, however, won the last six matches at the Bridge against clubs, like Qarabag, drawn from Pot 4, with an aggregate score of 24 goals for, two against. 

Home games in Champions group stage against Pot 4 opponents
2015/16 Maccabi Tel Aviv W 4-0 Willian; Oscar pen; Diego Costa; Fabregas
2014/15 Maribor W 6-0 Remy; Drogba pen; Terry o.g.; Hazard 2 (1 pen)
2013/14 Steaua Bucharest W 1-0 Ba
2012/13 Norsdajaelland W 6-1 David Luiz pen; Torres 2; Cahill; Mata; Oscar
2011/12 Genk W 5-0 Meireles; Torres 2; Ivanovic; Kalou
2010/11 Zilina W 2-1 Sturridge; Malouda
2009/10 APOEL Nicosia D 2-2 Essien; Drogba
2008/09 Cluj W 2-1 Kalou; Drogba
2007/08 Rosenborg D 1-1 Shevchenko
2006/07 Levski Sofia W 2-0 Shevchenko; Wright-Phillips

Conte, who skippered Juventus to the crown as a player, will be equally eager to go further as a coach than he has before: the quarter-finals, and if it was an advantage for the Blues to have no European football while the head coach instilled a new tactical approach, the benefits of having a now largely settled side should outweigh concerns about the additional workload.

The return leg against tonight’s opponents will become the most distant location in which Chelsea have played a UEFA game. At around 2,500 miles from the Bridge it will exceed Tel Aviv (2,200 miles). Only Yokohama, the Japanese city that hosted our FIFA Club World Cup campaign in 2012, at a little under 6,000 miles, has involved a longer trip for a competitive fixture.

The club is subsidising all-inclusive trips to Baku, a trading post on the ancient Silk Road from China, lapped by the Caspian Sea. A gateway city between Asia and Europe, it has as rich and romantic a history as any European capital.

Azerbaijan is oil-rich, with mountain castles and mud volcanoes. Its Caucasian sheep have provided wool that, once dyed and woven into carpets, covered European floors since the 10th century.

Unfortunately war in the west with neighbouring Armenia, over the disputed territory of Nogorno-Karabakh, has only recently been quelled by a ceasefire. The conflict led to the originally Agdam-based Qarabag relocating a few hundred miles to the capital, Baku, a drop of 365 metres in altitude from mountain to shoreline.

The Horsemen will play their Champions League home matches at the Bakı Olimpiya Stadionu, the new national stadium, and became their nation’s first Champions League group stage side by seeing off Copenhagen on away goals, after a 2-2 aggregate draw. Their qualification campaign began way back on 11 July.


A winning start, and top of Group C on our return to the Champions League after a year’s absence.

Other Group C fixture

Tonight 7.45pm - Roma v Atletico Madrid



This is our 26th season in European competition and 15th in the Champions League.

The Blues have topped our group in 11 of our 14 Champions League campaigns. In 1999/2000 there were two group stages and we were top team in the first and runners-up in the second one. We have only failed to progress to the knockout stage once, in 2012/13.

Matchday one fixtures
1999/00AC MilanD 0-0
2003/04Sparta PragueW 1-0
2004/05PSGW 3-0
2005/06AnderlechtW 1-0
2006/07Werder BremenW 2-0
2007/08RosenborgD 1-1
2008/09BordeauxW 4-0
2009/10PortoW 1-0
2010/11MSK ZiliaW 4-1
2011/12LeverkusenW 2-0
2012/13JuventusD 2-2
2013/14BaselL 1-2
2014/15SchalkeD 1-1
2015/16Maccabi Tel AvivW 4-0
Our Champions League record
Group posRound reached
2005/062ndRound of 16
2009/101stRound of 16
2012/133rdGroup stage
2014/151stRound of 16
2015/161stRound of 16

Chelsea’s season so far 

2017/18 scorers

Morata 3, Alonso 2, David Luiz 1, Fabregas 1, Kanté 1, Moses 1


European games since

A home win: 1

A home draw: 4

A home defeat: 0



Eden Hazard made his 250th Chelsea appearance at Leicester on Saturday.



Founded 1951


Major honours

5 Azerbaijani league titles, last in 2017

6 Azerbaijani Cups, last in 2017

1 Azerbaijani Super Cups in 1994


Last season

Premyer Liqa     Champions

Azerbaijan Cup  Winners

Europa League  Group stage


Qarabag are the first team from Azerbaijan to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

This is Qarabag’s fourth Champions League campaign. In each of the previous three they were eliminated in the third qualifying round.

In 2016/17, the Azeris reached the Europa League group stage for the third year in a row after being knocked out of the Champions League. They have never progressed to the last 32.

The Horsemen’s coach since 2008 is 45-year-old Gurban Gurbanov, Azerbaijan’s highest scoring international with 12 goals in 62 matches. He plied his trade as a player in Russia and Ukraine as well as Azerbaijan, and has steered Qarabag to domestic championships in the past four seasons.

Qarabag have played two games against an English team. In the Europa League group stage in 2015/16, Tottenham beat them home and away.


Qarabag’s one away game against an English team in Europe

2015/16 Tottenham       L 0-1      Europa League group stage


Ten Qarabag players were called up by Azerbaijan for the recent European qualifiers against Norway and San Marino.


Last 10 domestic league seasons             

2007/08              5th       

2008/09              5th       

2009/10              3rd       

2010/11              3rd       

2011/12              4th       

2012/13              2nd      

2013/14              1st        

2014/15              1st        

2015/16              1st        

2016/17              1st        


Ten-year European record

2007/08              Did not qualify

2008/09              Did not qualify

2009/10              Europa League play-offs

2010/11              Europa League play-offs

2011/12              Europa League third qualifying round

2012/13              Did not qualify

2013/14              Europa League play-offs

2014/15              Europa League group stage (after Champions League third QF round)

2015/16              Europa League group stage (after Champions League third QF round)

2016/17              Europa League group stage (after Champions League third QF round)

Champions League qualifying
Jul 11Samtredia (h) second qualifying roundW 5-0
Jul 18Samtredia (a) second qualifying roundW 1-0
Jul 25Sheriff (h) third qualifying roundD 0-0
Aug 01Sheriff (a) third qualifying roundW 2-1
Aug 15FC Copenhagen (h) Play-offW 1-0
Aug 23FC Copenhagen (a) Play-off L 1-2 (won on away goals)

Champions League scorers

Ndlovu 4 (1 pen), Guerrier 2, Michel 2, Ismayilov 1 (pen), Madatov 1

Azerbaijan Premyer Liga
4Inter Baku406


Tasos Sidiropoulos, his assistant referees, and additional assistant referees, are from Greece. This is his first Chelsea match.


- Visit later for part two of the Briefing