Chelsea’s domestic form has been awful so far this season, so Jose Mourinho’s men must be relishing the chance to get away from the Premier League when they begin their 2015-16 European campaign on Wednesday night.
The Blues begin life in Champions League Group G by welcoming Maccabi Tel Aviv to Stamford Bridge.
Maccabi are expected to be the whipping boys in the group, which also includes Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv and Portuguese giants Porto.
The Israeli side have never progressed beyond the group phase in the Champions League and they have taken some heavy beatings along the way – a 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich in 2004 is their biggest CL loss to date. They also lost 5-1 to Besiktas in the Europa League in 2011.
Despite their poor start in the Premier League – three defeats and just one win in five games – Chelsea are widely expected to cruise to three points on Wednesday.
In fact, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Blues could register their biggest Champion League win ever – a record that currently belongs to last season’s 6-0 triumph over NK Maribor.
Although they appear to stand little chance of sneaking a result at Stamford Bridge, Maccabi are not total mugs.
They won 17 of 26 regular season games en route to winning the Israeli Premier League last season and they knocked out FC Basle in Champions League qualifying.
A 2-2 draw in Switzerland, followed by a 1-1 draw in the home leg saw Maccabi edge past Basle on away goals.
Maccabi scraped past Hibernians and Viktoria Plzen in earlier qualifying rounds, despite losing 2-1 in the first legs of both ties.
Two of Maccabi’s key players are named Tal Ben-Haim. One is a central defender who Chelsea fans will know very well. He played 23 times for the Blues during the 2007-08 season, as well as having spells at Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City, Sunderland, Portsmouth, West Ham United, Queens Parks Rangers and Charlton Athletic.
Maccabi’s other Tal Ben-Haim is a 26-year-old forward who is the most likely player to deny Chelsea a clean sheet.