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Champions League group stage draw

Here is the draw for the group phase of the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League (British teams in capitals):

Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, TOTTENHAM, FC Twente

Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv

Group C: MANCHESTER UNITED, Valencia, RANGERS, Bursaspor

Group D: FC Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC Copenhagen, Rubin Kazan

Group E: Bayern Munich, AS Roma, FC Basel, CFR Cluj

Group F: CHELSEA, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MŠK Žilina

Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Group H: ARSENAL, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partisan

Here are my immediate reactions:

Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal should all be reasonably happy with their draws. Chelsea and Arsenal face long flights to away games in Russia and the Ukraine, but both should expect to win their groups comfortably. United’s visit to Rangers will be a highly-charged affair, but Sir Alex Ferguson‘s team will be too powerful for Walter Smith‘s side.

Having departed to Shakhtar Donetsk over the summer, striker Eduardo da Silva will at least have a chance to be given a proper send-off when he returns to the Emirates Stadium with his new side.

Pep Guardiola will need to practise his straight face in the mirror before telling the media that “there are no easy games in the Champions League”. He could not have asked for a much better draw if he had hand-picked it himself. At least he will not have to warn his Barcelona side that Rubin Kazan will be no push-over – the Russian champions won 2-1 at Camp Nou in last season’s group phase and held them to a 0-0 draw at home.

Harry Redknapp will be less happy, however. They were always going to face a tough draw as they were placed in the third pot of seeds, but Inter and Werder Bremen will stretch Spurs to the limit, and Dutch champions Twente were formidable in holding off Ajax last season under the guidance of former England coach Steve McClaren (who is now with Wolfsburg).

The toughest group, however, is unquestionably group G. Poor Auxerre, third in Ligue 1 last season, will face the seemingly impossible task of overcoming three of Europe’s biggest names, who have a total of 20 European Cup/Champions League trophies between them: AC Milan (seven), Real Madrid (nine) and Ajax (four). In that group, AC Milan striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will have the opportunity to play not one but two of his former clubs, Ajax and Madrid.

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About Tim
Father of three. Bit of a geek. That's all, folks.

5 Responses to Champions League group stage draw

  1. aardvarkian says:

    Group C: I’m very happy with this. I was out the whole day and the first I heard of the group draw was your blog. Thanks for the breaking news, Tim. You must be happy with Arsenal’s group, too.

  2. Adam Stone says:

    I see Man Ure got an easy draw again. I don’t know how they do it but they always seem to have it easy at this stage of proceedings. Arsenal haven’t done to bad either with their draw and I hope that they do well this year, Rather them win it than Man Ure or Chelski!

    Never mind as I am not interested in the Champions League at all this year (unless Man Ure lose of course). Now, The Europa League that’s going to be worth watching.

  3. aardvarkian says:

    What’s all this Man Ure business? I resemble that remark 🙂

    • Adam Stone says:

      Sorry, reflex action when writing about Man Utd. The one club I hate most of all in the whole wide world.

      I met Alex Ferguson once, many years ago when I was at college and have hated Man Utd ever since,

  4. Tim says:

    Ah, the glory of Thursday night football, eh Adam? 😉

    Despite UEFA’s careful seeding system, there is a significant difference between the ‘hardest’ and ‘easiest’ groups. In terms of the top seeds, I think you’d be extremely happy if you’re Barcelona and pretty happy if you’re Chelsea, United and Arsenal. Milan will be unhappy, and Inter and Lyon probably aren’t too chuffed either. To me, Bayern’s group seems like the only ‘average’ draw.

    Still, you can probably predict quite safely now that at least 14 of the teams from pots 1 and 2 will qualify for the knockout stage.

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