With this years final being held at Wembley, English clubs will be looking to win the illustrious tournament on home soil, but as Bayern München know that is not always a certainty.
The draw stared off with Manchester United legend, Dennis Law, drawing out the first name and that was Real Madrid. Ex-Liverpool and Real Madrid star, and two times Champions League winner, Steve McManaman was on hand to assign each club to their group and Real Madrid were drawn to group D. Every year there is a “Group of Death” and this year that is Group D.
Group D will see Real Madrid, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax face off against each other in a group which consists entirely of champions. If Manchester City want to impact on Europe the way they have on the Premiership then they are going to have to do it the hard way.
Ajax are going to find it the hardest, with Dortmund facing a tough task facing the might of Real Madrid and Manchester City. But if they can get good home results and wins over Ajax then they stand a chance of knocking one of the big teams out.
Group B sees Arsenal up against German side Schalke, Greece’s Olympiacos and French Champions, and former club of new signing Oliver Giroud, Montpellier. Arsenal should be able to get through the group but nothing in the ECL is ever easy. This will be one of the few times that Arsenal won’t have to be dealing with long-haul flights and that is something Arsène Wenger will be happy about. With the new signings they have, Arsenal shouldn’t struggle but Schalke and Montpellier are not going to be easy to play against, home or away.
Chelsea were drawn into Group E and they were joined by Shakhtar Donetsk of the Ukraine, Italian champions Juventus and new boys to the ECL Danish club Nordsjælland. Chelsea like Arsenal should be able to get out of this group, but the trip to the Ukraine is not going to be and easy one and Juventus are a growing force. They went the entire season unbeaten to claim the Scudetto and have re-enforced their squad this season to try and do the same again. Nordsjælland are not just the new boys to the UEFA Champions League, they are new to the world of football. When you think about it, when there are clubs that are over 100 years old so for one to be only 21 years they are the new boys of European football. It is strange to have a club younger than some of the players that will be playing for them. I can’t imagine they will cause an upset, but that is the beauty of football, you can’t predict any of it.
Manchester United don’t have the hardest group but not the easiest group either. They will face Turkish side Galatasaray, Portuguese club SC Braga and Romanian side CFR Cluj. No club enjoys playing away at Galatasaray and Braga’s attacking style of play can hurt any team. Arsenal faced them last year and they were some close games. Cluj, on there day can cause problems for the opposition, but Sir Alex Ferguson will make sure that then same thing doesn’t happen as before and they are kicked out at the group stages again.
Group C is an interesting one as anyone one of the teams has a chance of going through. Milan are not the team they used to be and with the players that have left compared to the players that have come in, they may well struggle both in Europe and in Serie A. Zenit could well top the group and fight it out with Malaga, leaving Anderlecht to fight for third with Milan for the Europa League. Barcelona don’t have a tough group and should qualify top of Group G leaving Benfica and Spartak Moscow to fight of Celtic for second and third.
Bayern München face a tougher ask, but one they should still manage to overcome. They have been drawn in Group F with Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov. The German side should top that group with Valencia and Lille battling it out for second, so those two games are going to be very interesting. And finally there is Group A which sees Porto up against big spending Paris St. Germain and Dinamo Zagreb and Dynamo Kyiv; two tough places to travel to. PSG with all their money and players that they have brought in have still been unable to register a win in Ligue 1 and if they team doesn’t gel those away trip and games against Porto may be too much to ask of them, if they are going to be looking to win the French League also. They could be one of the big names to crash out at the group stages.
With some easy groups and some real tough ones it’s fair to say that Tuesday and Wednesday nights are going to get interesting again, finally!
Here is the full run down of the Groups A-H
|GROUP A||GROUP B||GROUP C||GROUP D|
|Porto||Arsenal||AC Milan||Real Madrid|
|Dynamo Kyiv||Schalke||Zenit||Man City|
|Dinamo Zagreb||Montpellier||Málaga||B. Dortmund|
|GROUP E||GROUP F||GROUP G||GROUP H|
|Chelsea||Bayern München||Barcelona||Man United|
|Nordsjælland||BATE Borisov||Celtic||CFR Cluj|