Group G preview: Mourinho's nemeses, Chelsea's surplus stars and smarting Sporting
The Blues are among the favourites for the Champions League despite the myriad global conspiracies in place to thwart Jose Mourinho. The Special One pulled off an inspired summer coup to sign Diego Costa, who he had somehow divined to be a good player, and will be confident that his side can triumph in their battle against Europe’s other top clubs, UEFA, Pep Guardiola, UNICEF, the Moon, and Mourinho’s other nemeses.
Did you know? Tickets for Chelsea-Maribor are changing hands for as much as £30.
The Bundesliga side had a nightmare start to the season when they were upset in the Cup by Dynamo, lost to Hannover in the league and realised they were completely naked. They go into their third Champions League campaign in a row with a squad of people like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Kevin-Prince Boateng, so a last 16 exit is absolutely guaranteed.
Did you know? Renowned German record producer DJ Hooligan is a famous fan of Schalke, but he sometimes finds stadium staff oddly reluctant to let him through the gates.
They may be famed for their acts of sportsmanship, but Sporting Lisbon have often lived in the shadow of city neighbours, Cheating Lisbon, who are now better known as Benfica. The Portuguese side are still smarting from the loss of Marcos Rojo to Manchester United and the addition of Nani from Manchester United.
Did you know? Sporting made Cristiano Ronaldo the man he is today. Each year the club issues an official apology.
Marior qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time since 1999 by overcoming Celtic 2-1 on aggregate, cunningly avoiding the Scottish side’s attempts to tempt them into fielding an ineligible player. The Slovenians will be strong outsiders, hailing from a city of just 115,000 inhabitants, fewer than the number of players on Chelsea’s books.
Did you know? Maribor will field more Slovenian players than any other side in this year’s Champions League.
- Group A: Simeone the strangler, March of the Penguins and Nietzsche
- Group B: Liverpool hunt early exit, Ludogorets need supervision
- Group C: Peter Pan, second-best bridesmaids and unpopular billionaires
- Group D: Arsenal already winners, Klopp's secret vice and no Didier Drogba
- Group E: Crystal Palace in disguise, UEFA's new rule and struggling Cole
- Group F: European supervillains, kitty cannon fodder and Kaka's new face
- Group H: Homegrown goods, the little dentist and a geography lesson