After three semi-final defeats in four seasons, Chelsea FC can be forgiven for wondering if they will ever take that final step as they begin on Rosenborg BK.
After three UEFA Champions League semi-final defeats in four seasons, Chelsea FC can be forgiven for wondering if they will ever take that final step and appear on the biggest stage of all but a new campaign finds José Mourinho’s charges full of confidence and they will be hoping to get off to another winning start as they welcome Rosenborg BK to Stamford Bridge in Group B.
• They have become accustomed to picking up maximum points on Matchday 1 – five games, five wins, with the two Michaels, Ballack and Essien easing them over last season's first hurdle at home to Werder Bremen.
• Under their Portuguese coach, a UEFA Champions League winner with FC Porto in 2003/04, the London club have posted a formidable record in their own stadium, only dropping four points in nine group stage games. Last season they won all three group matches, without a goal conceded, scoring five times.
• They won five of their six home games in last season's competition, drawing the other 1-1 with Valencia CF, a group rival this time along with FC Schalke 04 who meet in the other game in the section. In a total of 16 home games under Mourinho in the competition they have finished second best on only one occasion - against FC Barcelona in the 2005/06 first knockout round. They have conceded goals in only three of their last eleven home European games.
• For the first time in three seasons Chelsea embark on another UEFA Champions League adventure without the status of Premier League champions. It is the first time they have faced Norwegian opposition in the UEFA Champions League though there have been two encounters in the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and one in the UEFA Cup.
• In each case Chelsea won the three home fixtures – by 7-1 against Tromsø IL in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup second round – but have lost two of the away legs. The last was against Viking FK with both Frank Lampard and John Terry scoring in a 4-2 defeat.
• Rosenborg start out on their eleventh campaign in world football's most prestigious club competition having regained their Norwegian crown in 2006. When their run of titles came to an end the previous year it meant that their participation in the UEFA Champions League was also at a close having missed just one of the previous ten editions.
• Coach Knut Tørum saw his team come through two qualifying rounds this time, a 10-2 aggregate victory over FC Astana and 5-0 on aggregate against Finnish champions Tampere United.
• However, on past experience the Trondheim club know that qualification brings an altogether tougher challenge. Their last appearance, in 2005/06, began with a 3-1 win in Greece against Olympiacos CFP which represented their first UEFA Champions League away victory in 17 attempts (not including qualifying rounds). It was also their first success in 19 games home and away in the group stages. Updating those statistics they have just one win in the competition in 19 away games and one win in 24 home and away.
• Rosenborg's last visit to England saw them suffer a heavy defeat as Arsenal FC beat them 5-1 in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League group stage. The earlier match at Lerkendal ended 1-1 with Roar Strand scoring for the home team.
• Nine years before Rosenborg were in the same UEFA Champions League group as Blackburn Rovers FC, carving out a 2-1 win at home before going down 4-1 away with Steffen Iversen notching the visitors’ lone reply.