Friday, 28 August 2009

UEFA Champions League Draw

Interesting eh? Some colossal ties lined up, and some not so. Let's have a look.

Group A - Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa
Three teams have a realistic chance of qualifying and it will be up to Bordeaux - the French champions - to try and show the quality Ligue 1 possesses. The Bayern v Juve clashes should be entertaining, possibly billed as the battle of creative playmakers: Ribery of the Germans against the talented Brazilian Diego of Juventus.

To qualify: Juventus and Bordeaux
Europa League: Bayern Munich

Group B - Man Utd, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg
To me, it is the German champions that Sir Alex will fear the least in this potentially tough group. Trips away to Russia and Turkey are not the most inviting ones during a busy Premier League season and it will be interesting to see how the squad copes. Wolfsburg's strikeforce of Bosnian Edin Dzeko and Brazilian Grafite were clinical last season so I would expect them to give defences a lot of problems.

To qualify: Man Utd and CSKA Moscow
Europa League: Wolfsburg

Group C - AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich
Kaka's return to the San Siro couldn't come soon enough. AC Milan have played Barcelona in recent years but not the team from Madrid. These two clashes should be epic and I would expect goals galore between the two, with players such as Ronaldo, Kaka, Ronaldinho and Pato on show. Marseille should provide no real opposition for either and should settle for third in the group.

To qualify: Real Madrid and AC Milan
Europa League: Marseille

Group D - Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL Nicosia
Chelsea should be dominant despite a resurgent Porto side containing the talents of Hulk and Cristian Rodriguez and Atletico who could cause problems with their potent strikeforce of Sergio Aguero and Diego Forlan. Expect APOEL to concede a lot of goals with Porto and Atletico battling it out for second spot.

To qualify: Chelsea and Atletico Madrid
Europa League: Porto

Group E - Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debrecen
Potential banana skin for a Liverpool team who have been struggling as of late. A lack of Alonso-ness has led a lot of people to ask questions about whether Liverpool can sustain a title challenge this year so a Champions League charge doesn't look likely. Lyon are considerably weaker this year without Juninho and Benzema so I would expect Fiorentina to do well in this group although the sale of Felipe Melo to Juventus will have harmed their chances.

To qualify: Fiorentina and Liverpool
Europa League: Lyon

Group F - Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan
No one likes a trip to the Ukraine or Russia but it is what both Barca and Inter will have to deal with in this group. The two European giants should dominate the group but I would expect them to drop points in their away games in Eastern Europe. When the two teams meet in Spain and Italy expect fireworks with Eto'o and Ibrahimovic returning to their former stamping grounds and if Eto'o scores against his former club Mourinho will be laughing harder than when he received the Cameroon international alongside £40 million.

To qualify: Barcelona and Inter Milan
Europa League: Dynamo Kiev

Group G - Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni
Rangers have never received such an opportunity to get out of the group stage than this. Possibly the weakest group of the eight although Sevilla will argue that. The Spaniards have managed to keep hold of the frontline of Luis Fabiano and Frederic Kanoute to provide the goals but it remains to be seen where the creativity will come from. Rangers will be looking for the form that took them to the UEFA Cup final in 2008 to guide them through this group.

To qualify: Sevilla and Stuttgart
Europa League: Rangers

Group H - Arsenal, AZ, Olympiakos, Standard Liege
The smile on Mr Wenger's face when he saw this group must have been ridiculously huge. Although Greek football is undergoing somewhat of a revolution with star players starting to ply their trade there, there will be no challenge to the Gunners and I fully expect them to top the group with maximum points. Although the opposition are all champions of their respective leagues the quality of the leagues themselves is what will let them down in the group stage.

To qualify: Arsenal and Standard Liege
Europa League: Olympiakos

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