Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni
Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege
United, Sevilla and Arsenal are guaranteed top seeds. Getting the top seed in your group is crucial, because it means you avoid the top seed from another group in the round of 16. It can mean the difference between playing a team like Chelsea vs. playing a team like Atletico. Barring hiccups, Barca, Liverpool and Chelsea should also be top seeds, but it's not a sure thing. We shall see.
As a Barca fan, I'm not thrilled about having to get four points off Mourinho's Inter, and I'm certainly not thrilled about the prospect of facing up a fired Samuel Eto'o -- the guy really likes sticking it to his old teams. Plus, if there are two countries you don't want to go to in the dead of the winter, it's Russia and Ukraine. Actually, all things considered, Barca have a pretty tough group. And as some commenters on other blogs have already mentioned, it's the only group in which all four teams won their domestic leagues last year.
Group A should be fun, especially if Robben ends up at Bayern as he is rumored to. But I'm most looking forward to the Group C clashes between Real and Milan. So many storylines: can Ronaldinho recreate his magic at the Bernabeu similar to three years ago, when he scored twice in a 3-0 win? What about Kaka's reception back at the San Siro? You think Gattuso might have a tackle or two in store for him? It should be fun.
Group D is obviously the hardest group. As always in so-called groups of death, it'll be the result against the minor team (what the hell is Apoel FC?) that makes the difference in the end. A draw at home or a loss away might spell disaster. And each of the three majorish teams have different styles, so it'll be captivating viewing for sure.
15th and 16th September is when it all gets started. Is there anything better than the Champions League?