Thursday, August 30, 2007

On The Road To Moscow...

The Champions League Group Stage draw was done this morning, and we're officially off and running with the CL proper: six match days of round robin group play to cut the field from 32 to 16, who then play a knockout stage which will culminate on May 17 in Moscow for the Champions League Final.

Group A
Liverpool {England}
Porto {Portugal}
Marseille {France}
Besiktas {Turkey}

Group B
Chel$ea {England}
Valencia {Spain}
Shalke 04 {Germany}
Rosenborg {Norway}

Group C
Real Madrid {Spain}
Werder Bremen {Germany}
Lazio {Italy}
Olympiakos {Greece}

Group D
AC Milan {Italy}
Benfica {Portugal}
Celtic {Scotland}
Shakhtar Donetsk {Ukraine}

Group E
Barcelona {Spain}
Lyon {France}
Stuttgart {Germany}
Rangers {Scotland}

Group F
Manchester United {England}
Roma {Italy}
Sporting Lisbon {Portugal}
Dynamo Kiev {Ukraine}

Group G
Inter Milan {Italy}
PSV Eindhoven {Holland}
CSKA Moscow {Russia}
Fenerbache {Turkey}

Group H
Arsenal {England}
Sevilla/AEK Athens {Spain/Greece}
Steaua Bucharest {Romania}
Slavia Prague {Czech. Republic}

So there it is.

My first reaction to Arsenal's draw was "hell yes" and that we got a fairly soft draw. Most important we avoided the always tricky trips to insane Turkey as well as insanely cold Russia and Ukraine. On paper Steaua Bucharest are the weakest of the 3 seeds, and Slavia Prague are a weak 4 seed {we just rolled the Czech champions 5-0 in qualifying, so their crosstown rivals should be easy fodder} on paper. But as we all know, the matches are not played on paper, and Slavia Prague did pull the shocker of qualifying by knocking out Dutch longtime Dutch giants Ajax. As far as Sevilla/AEK Athens, if AEK come back to win then they will be the weakest of the 2 seeds, and Sevilla are obviously team turmoil right now with Puerta's death and the fact that their best player, Dani Alves, wants out of Sevilla and apparently is not happy there. That being said, they are a damn good team and it's just as likely that they will play lights out this year feeding off the emotion of playing for their fallen teammate. Either way, I'm ready to see how it all plays out.

Top two in each group make the knockout stage. Third place gets you the nice parting gift of a spot in the 3rd round of the lesser UEFA Cup, and 4th place gets you a one way ticket to the couch where you can watch with the rest of us.

The first group stage matches are Sept. 18/19.

Bring it...


moin said...

Eh, it won't be the first time Arsenal bungled an easy draw should it happen.

RM got a fairly tough (but not devastating) draw, all the other seeds are better than average. No real group of death this year though.

Oh, fun stuff.

el pichichi said...

Love the draw Celtic got....they should make it out of the group stage, then promptly fold. Go Bhoys!!