Don't you just love watching a bunch of guys stand around pulling ping pong balls out of crystal dishes?
The draw for the Europa League round of 32 was just completed, and Chelsea FC will be facing Sparta Prague. Our opponents currently sit third in the Czech League, and the first leg of the tie ought to see a huge ovation for Czech legend Petr Cech.
For those unfamiliar with the Europa League format, the round of 32 will be a two-legged tie using the usual rules of European competition. The first leg is scheduled for February 14, with the second leg scheduled for February 21. As the seeded team in the draw, Chelsea will have the "advantage" of playing the second leg (February 21) at home. Both John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses will return from the ACoN before either of these games.
The draw for the round of 16 was also held today, with the winner of the Sparta Prague/Chelsea tie set to face the winner between Ajax and Steaua Bucharest. The first leg of that tie will take place on March 7, with the second leg being played March 14. Should Chelsea advance beyond the round of 16 (or even if they don't I suppose), there will be one final draw to set the bracket for the remainder of the tournament following those games.
The dates and times for the Capital One Cup semifinals have also been set today. Chelsea will host Swansea City on January 9 at 19:45 BST, and they will head to Wales for the second leg on January 23 at 19:45 BST. Mikel and Moses will be available for the home leg, but Chelsea will be without the pair for the game in Wales.
Also of note this morning was the Champions League draw, which still has some impact on Chelsea. The sooner the other two English teams go out, the larger the share of the TV money Chelsea will receive. To that end, the draw was absolutely fantastic. Manchester United drew Real Madrid, while Arsenal drew Bayern Munich. Sad as it would be to see the English sides all crash out of the Champions League, I think most would consider the scenario that neither of them reach the quarterfinals to be probable at this point.