Breaking down the Champions League Group Stage draw
Published: Monday, September 2, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 2, 2013 23:09
Wherever allegiances may lie, the UEFA Champions League competition is football’s biggest thriller, aside from the World Cup. After a successful draw last week, apart from the terrible trouble that former Barcelona and Real Madrid star Luis Figo had with opening the plastic balls with team names inside, we have the group stages set.
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkuson, Real Sociedad
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Copenhagen
Group C: Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Olympiacos, Anderlecht
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plzen
Group E: Chelsea, FC Schalke, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli
Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St. Petersburg, Austria Vienna
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Celtic
Manchester United’s new boss David Moyes will look to take control of Group A with Leverkusen and Donetsk likely posing the biggest threat to the Reds. As Group A sorts itself out, Group B sees Real and Juventus as the biggest contenders of the group, with Fatih Terim’s Galatasaray a dark-horse in the competition with Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba. Group C proves to be a gritty group in which nearly any club could advance, the favorites being Paris Saint-Germain led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani. As this year’s final will be held in the Estadio da Luz, Benfica will look to press themselves into contention to at least advance to the latter stages of the knockout phase.
Another English club, Manchester City, also finds itself back in the competition. After last seasons turmoil in the competition in a group containing Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, Manuel Pellegrini has a tall order to conquer in Group D. Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich has struggled in the Bundesliga to date, however Munich remain the favorites to win the competition once again. While poor Viktoria Plzen will likely finish last in the group, CSKA Moscow always creates some sort of trouble in the group stages - an area in which City needs to improve or Pellegrini could quickly see his reign at The Etihad end abruptly, just as Roberto Mancini’s had.
“The Special One” meets “The Easy One?” Arguably the biggest “winners” of the draw in Monaco were last seasons Europa League Champions, Chelsea which are in Group E. Jose Mourinho’s side drew a struggling Schalke side, which recently picked up AC Milan’s Kevin Prince Boateng. After winning the competition two seasons ago against Bayern Munich, numerous questions have surfaced as to whether or not “The Special One” will bring the Blues deep into the Champions League. For instance, what ever will he do with Juan Mata?