Thursday, August 24, 2006

Champions League Draw

The Champions League draw for 2006-2007 went down earlier today. For those not in the know, it is a similar format as the World Cup: a group stage followed by a knockout stage to determine the best club team in all of Europe. Like the World Cup, the group stage consists of 8 groups of 4 teams who play each other once at home and once on the road; then the top two advance to the round of 16, the 3rd place teams drop down to the less prestigous UEFA Cup, and the last place team goes home. In the knockout stage each round is a 2 legged playoff: one match at each team's home stadium with the winner advancing on total goals, with away goals being the tiebreaker. It follows this pattern until the final, which is a one off match at a pre determined neutral location. This year's final is in Athens, Greece. The group stage starts in September and the Final is in May; CL matches are played midweek throughout the season and are in addition to whatever league and cup matches the team have in their respective countries.

Arsenal drew Porto, CSKA Moscow, and Hamburg. Not a bad draw, although trips to Russia in the winter are always tricky, especially for a finesse team like Arsenal, and Hamburg are pretty tough for a 4th seed. We shall see; it all kicks off on September 12/13. Bring it on.

Of course Chel$ea drew Barca again - cue more whining from Mourinho about them not being a 1 seed. Even funnier is that they also drew Werder Bremen, so they drew probably the toughest 1 seed and the toughest 3 seed. It is not beyond possibility that Barca and WB could qualify at their expense. Dare to dream...

In another interesting twist, AC Milan drew a joke of a group that they will walk through with ease: Lille, AEK Athens, Anderlecht. Definitely the easiest draw of all of the top seeds. As I have said before, listen for grumbling to grow louder and louder as they progress in a competition that they have no business being a part of in the first place, and don't be at all surprised if in some twisted sort of ironic-bizarro-karma they go on to win the whole thing after being {rightfully} banned and then {wrongfully and shamefully} allowed back in on appeal.

Liverpool, on the heels of their Israeli/Kiev adventure in qualifying, have to go to Turkey, which is never fun for an English club. They should get the standard "Welcome To Hell" treatment from the Galatasaray fans which for European teams starts at the airport (just ask Barcelona if it is an intimidating place to play). On the other hand they should be able to draw on the positive mojo of winning the Champions League Final in miraculous fashion in Istanbul 2 years ago. Has an English team played an away match in Turkey against Galatasaray in the CL since the 2 Leeds fans were stabbed to death in Istanbul in 2001?


Anonymous said...

RM got Lyon. *Grumble grumble*

Kanu said...

Yes, but RM also got Diarra from Lyon, and more importantly Cannavaro, and the rest of the group is shit.

You'll be fine, Moin.