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Chelsea's Mata to make rapid return to Valencia

New Chelsea FC signing Juan Mata will have a swift return to Valencia CF after the Group E draw, while Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Michael Ballack will also meet his former club.

Chelsea's Mata to make rapid return to Valencia
Chelsea's Mata to make rapid return to Valencia ©UEFA.com

There will be reunions aplenty in UEFA Champions League Group E, with Chelsea FC's new signing Juan Mata having said before leaving Valencia CF: "I have a wish that [the two clubs] will meet in the final of this season's Champions League."

The Spanish international will be renewing acquaintances with his former employers earlier than he might have hoped, while the other two teams met in a friendly in July, Bayer 04 Leverkusen beating KRC Genk thanks mainly to an Eren Derdiyok hat-trick in the second half. The Belgian title holders still have lofty aspirations, however, forward Thomas Buffel saying: "We certainly have ambition in this group. You always have to have ambition. It is the intention that we will try to force something."

Steve Atkins, Chelsea communications director
Every draw throws up challenges and this is no different; I have spoken to André [Villas-Boas] and he certainly feels that too. Valencia are a formidable team and a very difficult place to go with their support; Juan Mata will be returning there a little bit more quickly than he thought! Bayer Leverkusen is also a difficult one and we will be delighted to meet up with Michael Ballack again, and Genk too are full of talent and should not be underestimated.

Unai Emery, Valencia coach
The draw has been a little bit devious in putting Valencia and Juan Mata's Chelsea in the same group. It will be something special for our fans to see Juan playing at Mestalla in a different shirt. Everyone who has shared a dressing room with him has learned from him as he is a great footballer. I wish him all the luck in the world in his new adventure, except of course when he comes up against us.

Leverkusen come from a strong league and will make things difficult. We know we must respect Genk too. Our aim is to qualify, and if we can do so as group winners, so much the better.

Robin Dutt, Leverkusen coach
This is definitely not an easy draw for us; the travel will be easy but not the games. Chelsea and Valencia are not unknown quantities and we have already seen in a pre-season friendly that Genk are a high-quality side.

Pierre Denier, Genk coach
I noticed the players were eager for a group with Barcelona and AC Milan, although it could also have become worse as we could have got [a less attractive] group. Everything we now experience is something extra.