Champions League guide: Group H in focus
Last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea will be looking to retain their title — and Romelu Lukaku's return should put them among the tournament favourites once again.
The Blues will be expected to finish top of Group H ahead of Juventus, who are very much a team in transition.
Juve sold star player Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United this summer but are well-placed to make the knockout rounds after signing Italy internationals Moise Kean and Manuel Locatelli.
Zenit Saint Petersburg could push the Bianconeri hard for second place, with exciting Brazilians like Malcom and Wendel in their ranks.
Swedish side Malmo finished bottom of the group in their two previous Champions League appearances and it is hard to see anything but another difficult campaign for the 2020 Allsvenskan winners this time around.
Champions League Group H fixtures
Check back throughout the group stage for the latest results and match reports
Tuesday September 14
Wednesday September 29
Zenit 4-0 Malmo
Wednesday October 20
Tuesday November 2
Tuesday November 23
Malmo 1-1 Zenit
Wednesday December 8
Key fixture: Juventus vs Chelsea
Chelsea’s trip to Turin for their second match of Group H will be a chance for them to show Europe that they mean business.
Luckily for Thomas Tuchel’s outfit, Juventus’ home ground is not the fortress that you might expect when it comes to the Champions League.
In the past three seasons, Juve have lost at the Allianz Stadium to Barcelona, Ajax and Manchester United.
The Blues will be looking to take advantage of the void in Juventus’ team left by Ronaldo’s departure, before the Old Lady’s new players can properly bed in.
One to watch: Romelu Lukaku
Returning powerhouse forward Lukaku is the missing piece of the puzzle for Chelsea.
The West Londoners were strong defensively and created lots of chances last season, and Lukaku has been brought in to turn those chances into goals.
His pedigree is without question, having struck 30 times in all competitions for Inter last season, and 34 in the 2019-20 campaign.
The Belgian has a career record of roughly one goal every two games, so it is no surprise Chelsea spent £97million to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
But the 28-year-old does have relatively little Champions League experience, and has only scored 13 goals in Europe’s premier competition across his whole career.
Breakout star: Manuel Locatelli
Locatelli joined Juventus this summer and could well be the player they build their team around in the years to come.
The 23-year-old already has almost 150 Serie A matches under his belt for AC Milan and Sassuolo and scored two goals as Italy won Euro 2020.
Juve had to be creative to afford Locatelli, eventually agreeing a loan deal with an obligation to buy the midfielder.
He impressed last year at Sassuolo — mostly because of his outstanding progressive passing ability — and although he is primarily a defensive midfielder, he can also operate in a more advanced role in the centre of the park.
Zenit Saint Petersburg
Juventus could struggle for goals with the loss of Ronaldo, so Chelsea are clear favourites to win this group.
Strong in defence, full of creative players and with one of the best strikers in the world up front, the current European champions do not really have a weakness.
But Juventus are still strong enough to expect a second-place finish.
Zenit have enough quality up front to cause teams trouble but both Juventus and Chelsea look too solid at the back for the Russian side.
Malmo do have the potential to get some points on the board over the months ahead with Europa League qualification in third place likely their best hopes of a European adventure this season.
All information correct as of 10am, September 6, 2021