Had we said this before the draw, most people would have assumed that Manchester City were yet again in the group of death, but despite being in the third pot of seeds, that is not the case for Manuel Pellegrini’s men.
It was top seeded Arsenal who have the draw everyone wanted to avoid and now look like ruing their lack of business in the summer transfer window more than ever before. Having to face both runners up last season Borussia Dortmund and also Napoli is tough by any standard. Napoli may have lost Cavani, but Rafa Benitez is the master in Europe and the team also have spent big with the likes of Jose Callejon, Raul Albiol and Gonzalo Higuain joining.
Perhaps both boards could get together and Napoli can offer pointers on how to sign Real Madrid players – given Wenger has tried and failed multiple times this summer. We Footyettes think the Frenchman could do with tips on how to buy anyone at all at this point.
The Gunners also have to contend with Marseilles, who as the more pessimistic Arsenal fans (or Spurs fans) quip, could well be the ones to beat should Arsenal want to get into the Europa League.
Without going too heavily into the seeding policy and quite if it is a good thing -that’s a can of worms for another day- it does raise the question of if groups such as Arsenal’s are a good thing, or if we risk a top side going out in the first stage, when a weaker team from another group (and yes we mean C and G) go through.
Celtic also face a tough time of it, and Neil Lennon’s face pretty much summed it all up. Quite if the tweet from Gary Lineker was appropriate or not remains to be seen, but ‘bye bye Celtic’ looks more than likely. Either way, as the Scottish Champions showed last term, they are more than a match on their day and will make both Barcelona and AC Milan aware of exactly who they are.
In news that will shock no one, Manchester United found themselves in a less than challenging group and managed to avoid the mighty Basel to boot – along with Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea who should be confident of finishing as group winners.
Nine times winners Real Madrid have a tricky group to navigate and have to face not only Juventus but also Galatasaray and Didier Drogba, who as Mourinho noted gave them a ‘heart attack’ in the knockout stages last term. The Spanish Giants, along with rivals Barcelona and Atletico Madrid should all be confident of getting through their groups – and if they are being honest, all expect to be group winners too.
Here is a rundown of the groups in full:
GROUP A – Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
GROUP B – Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, FC Copenhagen
GROUP C – Benfica, PSG, Olympiakos, Anderlecht
GROUP D- Bayern Munich, CSKA, Manchester City, Plazen
GROUP E – Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
GROUP F– Arsenal, BVB, Marseilles, Napoli
GROUP G– Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit, Austria Vienna
GROUP H – Barcelona, AC Milan, Celtic, Ajax
Who do you think will go through? Comment below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.