Champions League guide: Group E in focus
Fixtures and UK kick-off times
Dinamo Zagreb vs Chelsea (September 6, 5.45pm)
FC Salzburg vs AC Milan (September 6, 8pm)
AC Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb (September 14, 5.45pm)
Chelsea vs FC Salzburg (September 14, 8pm)
FC Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (October 5, 5.45pm)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (October 5, 8pm)
Dinamo Zagreb vs FC Salzburg (October 11, 8pm)
AC Milan vs Chelsea (October 11, 8pm)
FC Salzburg vs Chelsea (October 25, 5.45pm)
Dinamo Zagreb vs AC Milan (October 25, 8pm)
Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb (November 2, 8pm)
AC Milan vs FC Salzburg (November 2, 8pm)
Seven-time winners AC Milan will look to improve on last year's showing after finishing bottom of a group that included Liverpool, Atletico Madrid and Porto.
Fresh from clinching last season's Scudetto, the Rossoneri count former Chelsea men Fikayo Tomori, Olivier Giroud and Tiemoue Bakayoko among their stars.
Winners two seasons ago, the Blues enter a new era after Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital purchased the Premier League side from Roman Abramovich.
Continental glory was Abramovich's obsession while in charge and the Stamford Bridge outfit remain hungry for more.
FC Salzburg will be looking to build on last season's second-place finish after winning the Austrian Bundesliga last term.
But they will do so without talisman Karim Adeyemi, who has left for Borussia Dortmund, while Leeds snapped up Rasmus Kristensen and Brenden Aaronson.
Croatia's Dinamo Zagreb, who qualified by beating Bodo/Glimt 4-2 on aggregate in a play-off, round off the group.
The clashes between Chelsea and Milan look likely to decide who finishes top of Group E.
And the schedule builds to a crescendo in which the pair meet in successive fixtures on gameweeks three and four — first at Stamford Bridge and then the San Siro.
The pair have only met twice before in the Champions League — group-stage clashes in 1999 that both ended in stalemate.
A repeat of those results would not give either side true control of the group heading into the final two games, however, and both teams will hope to deliver a statement victory against a serious contender early on.
Salzburg, meanwhile, will hope to upset the big boys when they come to town.
Last season, the Austrian champions lost just two league games and even held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw on their own patch in the Champions League round of 16 — though they did subsequently lose 7-1 in Germany.
Matthias Jaissle’s men will hope to frustrate Chelsea and Milan in their home encounters with the pair and give themselves a chance of sneaking into the knockout phase.
One to watch: Rafael Leao
With 21 Serie A goals and assists last term, few played a bigger part in Milan's first scudetto win since 2011 than Rafael Leao.
The 23-year-old forward had never previously reached double figures in the league after joining from Lille in 2019 in a £20million deal.
Capable of playing on either flank or through the middle, Leao's pace stretches defences and he is a dangerous one-on-one attacker.
Capped for the first time by Portugal last year, Leao was even nicknamed the Portuguese Mbappe in his youth while Milan coach Stefano Pioli and Italian legend Fabio Capello have likened him to Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
Hot prospect: Junior Adamu
Former Salzburg hotshot Adeyemi might have swapped Salzburg for Dortmund but the Austrians do not lack attacking quality — and Junior Adamu is just one of their next wave of talents.
The Nigeria-born striker, 21, has spent his entire career in Austria and represents the European nation at international level, debuting in 2021.
Adamu scored his first Champions League goal in last season's competition — the opener in the 1-1 draw with Bayern in the last 16 after coming off the bench.
Quick, brave and intelligent out of possession, he might not have generated the hype Adeyemi or Erling Haaland did but do not overlook him.
It is hard to look past Chelsea to top Group E, even if the Blues have had a somewhat tumultuous summer.
The additions of Raheem Sterling, Kalidou Koulibaly, Wesley Fofana and Marc Cucurella have only made the West London outfit stronger.
Expect Milan to run Thomas Tuchel's men close for top spot though.
Pioli's side have only been back in the Champions League for one season prior to this campaign but only Real Madrid (14) have lifted the European Cup more often.
Salzburg have twice finished third since qualifying for the tournament proper for the first time in 2019-20 and look likely to face disappointment once more.
Write them off at your peril, though — Salzburg are Europe's elite talent finders.
It is hard to see 1967 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup winners Dinamo being anything but whipping boys.