Chelsea FC have made their customary strong start in the UEFA Champions League and in their first meeting with Genk will be looking to extend an unbeaten home record in the group stage which stretches back eight years.
As well as the first meeting between the teams, this is also Genk’s maiden experience of opponents from England.
All six of Chelsea‘s previous fixtures against Belgian sides have produced a decisive scoreline and in each case the losing team failed to score.
The Blues have won all three home games, the first of which was a 1970/71 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup quarter-final – en route to lifting the trophy – when a 4-0 second-leg triumph against Club Brugge KV overturned a 2-0 loss in Belgium.
It was a similar story at the same stage of the same competition in 1994/95, Chelsea losing 1-0 at Club Brugge before a 2-0 home success.
In the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League group stage Chelsea were 1-0 winners against RSC Anderlecht thanks to an early Frank Lampard goal. Petr Čech, Michael Essien, John Terry, Didier Drogba were also in the home team while Anthony Vanden Borre lined up for the opposition. The Blues subsequently won 2-0 in Belgium.
Chelsea began with a 2-0 defeat of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, David Luiz and Juan Mata giving new manager André Villas-Boas a winning start in the competition and securing the London club’s eighth matchday one victory in ten attempts.
Lampard subsequently put Chelsea ahead at Valencia CF but a late Roberto Soldado penalty denied them all three points.
Genk marked their return to Europe’s elite club competition after nine years with a hard-earned point at home to Valencia in their first game. They then went down 2-0 at Leverkusen two weeks later.
Last season Chelsea won all three home games in the group and reached the quarter-finals where they bowed out to Premier League rivals Manchester United FC, losing 1-0 at home and 2-1 away. That denied them a sixth semi-final
appearance in eight years.
Chelsea are unbeaten in 24 UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures at Stamford Bridge, winning 18 and drawing six since a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Beşiktaş JK on 1 October 2003.
On their only previous participation, in 2002/03, Genk finished bottom of their group with four points. On their travels they lost 6-0 at Real Madrid CF but then gained draws at AS Roma (0-0) and AEK Athens FC (1-1).
Genk reached the group stage in dramatic circumstances, the Belgian champions overturning Maccabi Haifa FC’s 2-1 first-leg advantage in the play-offs to win by the same score in the return. With no addition to the 3-3 aggregate score in extra time it went to a shoot-out, Genk winning 4-1 thanks to two saves from goalkeeper László Köteles.
Coach Frank Vercauteren stepped down after the first leg against Haifa. Pierre Denier was in caretaker charge for the return before Mario Been was appointed as Vercauteren’s permanent successor on 30 August.