Maurizio Sarri's Chelsea have been handed a manageable group for their Europa League campaign this year after the draw was made by UEFA in Monaco this afternoon. Having been drawn in Pot 1, they were always likely to receive a kind hand in this deal and so it was to pass.
They’ve been drawn in Group alongside L, alongside the Greek side PAOK, BATE Borisov of Belarus and the Hungarian side Vidi.
The Blues’ new Italian manager will take the 2012/13 on a Europa League campaign after a disappointing fifth-place finish in the Premier League last season consigned them to a place in the second tier of continental football this term.
What was a stifling final season under Antonio Conte seems a long time ago for the club, with Sarri’s incoming seeming like a breath of fresh air for all involved, if not for him.
A possession-based, attacking style and a warmer personality have endeared the former Napoli coach to his players and the Stamford Bridge faithful alike.
Two wins from two in the league won’t do any harm on that score either, nor will keeping hold of the club’s best player in Eden Hazard among the annual links of a move to Real Madrid for him.
How much focus they’ll put on the competition this season remains unclear, however, as his Napoli side famously played a weakened side in a knockout tie against RB Leipzig last season as their ultimately fruitless tilt at Serie A glory reached a vital stage.
At a club with a rich recent history in Europe, he may feel the need to emphasise the importance of progression a tad more this time around.