Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quick Thoughts On The Champions League Draw

Here's how the teams were drawn up:

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?


zeyd said...

God damn, how shit is group G? I can't get over it.

Plenty of touch groups (A-E stand out) and I expect some surprises along the way.

Manure catching Wolfsburg right at the end made that quite a tasty group. CSKA are no pushovers, and a trip to Turkey is always dangerous, quite literally.

I'm fairly content with Chelsea's draw; Porto will be tricky as always, but they've weakened since last year; Atletico are a good team and will come at us, but their defense and midfield are weak and I'm sure we can expose that; APOEL will provide a nice Mediterranean trip for the fans, but they will put up a fight.

Personally I think it's about as tough as last year:

Roma, Bordeaux, Cluj = Atletico, Porto, APOEL

All in all, a tricky group with some good teams, but that's what you expect in the CL.

Regarding Barca, that's an easy group. There's just one tough team to handle, whereas most other groups have an assortment of good teams. Kiev are mediocre and who the fuck are Rubin? Barca will waltz through.

Fucking gooners; they really get some easy draws eh? Not a single powerhouse to negotiate. They do have some tricky ties though, all those teams can play.

Ahsan said...

Arsenal got RIDICULOUSLY lucky. It's pathetic.

To answer the question of "who the fuck are Rubin?", they're the team that won the Russian league last year. Ahead of CSKA, which you yourself call "no pushovers". So I actually don't think Barca have it as easy as you're making out, especially now that Real essentially gave Sneijder to Inter for nothing (15 mil!!!). In fact, I'm half suspecting that they sold him to Inter so cheap so that they could damage Barca's prospects in the CL. Or am I being too conspiratorial? Either way, Mourinho and Inter must think the top 2 in Spain are absolute idiots after the Ibra for Eto'o+40 mil incident and now this.

Atletico are a hilarious team to watch. They're my 2nd favorite team in Spain simply because they're so goddamn dysfunctional on the pitch -- they often end up in a 4-2-4 (Maxi and Simao playing just behind Forlan and Aguero), which is why half their games end up in scores like 5-3 or 4-2 or some shit. You should be wary of Forlan though -- dude can change a game at a moment's notice.

Where are the Arse fans?

Anonymous said...

Reacting to the draw Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said:

LOL! Thanks for that. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Btw, its Arsenal, and we got it this year around.

Even the draws suggest that.

Ali said...

Arsenal got Greek, Dutch and Belgian League winners. So its pretty tricky i'd say. =P
Comeon Gooners!!

Nikhil said...

I bet anon above is a dirty scouse scumbag trying to jinx us.
It a tough group with three national champions, but I'm hopeful that we'll overcome some tough opposition and make it through to the knockout.

That is all.

Ahsan said...

Dear Arse fans,

Please shut up.

Many thanks and best regards,


p.s. Remember there are two more draws to take place in this competition. I wouldn't be so chirpy right now, if I were you.

Asfandyar said...

Here's something interesting:

09-10: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiacos, Standard Liege
08-09: Arsenal, Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Fenerbache
07-08: Arsenal, Sevilla, Slavia Prague, Steaua Bucharest
06-07: Arsenal, Porto, CSKA Moscow, Hamburg
05-06: Arsenal, Ajax, Thun, Sparta Prague
04-05: Arsenal, PSV, Panathinaikos, Rosenborg

They really don't half get some easy draws. None of those teams is a current European powerhouse (or has been for the past decade).

Anyway, United have a fairly easy draw. As zeyd pointed out though, there's a fair bit of travelling involved - might have to take some risks with a rotated team if important league games are around the corner. I think we play Man City after our first European outing.

Hopefully Liverpool will be fucked proper by Lyon and Fiorentina!

Ali said...

And the year before that.

03-04 Arsenal, IterMilan, Dynamo Kiev, CSKA Moscow

zeyd said...

Woah, had no idea Rubin won the league last season. That's some achievement considering they had teams like Lokomotiv, CSKA, and Zenith to negotiate.

Still, I think their lack of European experience (compared to CSKA, for example) will work against them. With just Inter as a serious contender to Barca, it's still one of the easier groups; no amount of deflection will change that!