Football

Champions League: Who got the best draw?

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Get past the faux-glitter spectacle, the endless montages, the shots of bored old men in suits, the receding hairlines, get past all that and there's actually something genuinely exciting about the Champions League draw.

Because while it may ultimately represent many of the more unsavoury aspects of the sport - the bureaucracy, the money - it's still home to some of the most dramatic, exciting football in the world.

Like every year, the build-up was basically one massive montage - and every now and then UEFA would roll out a 'legend' to a smattering of applause.

Luis Figo, Johan Cruyff, Michael Owen - wait, hang on a second. Anyway, they were all there for what basically boils down to a really unfair lottery. The best clubs get the easiest draw, the smaller sides the hardest. At least that's the theory.

And that's the beauty of the coefficient system - unfortunately it's hard to think of too many better ways of organising it. As Winston Churchill once said, it's the worst way of doing it - except for all the other ways. Admittedly he was talking about democracy, but the words still apply.

Let's run through the Premier League teams and their Champions League draw here...

Manchester City

Last season the then-reigning Premier League champions crashed the Champions League party again, but this time full of optimism.

That quickly dissipated when the draw was made. Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid progressed, and City finished behind Ajax at the bottom.

This year it looks more promising. City will fancy their chances of reaching the knock-out stages, despite the tricky trip to Moscow and the formidable task of getting points from two fixtures against Bayern Munich.

Viktoria Plzen will be looking to cause an upset along the way, but surely City have learnt from past failures.

Manchester United

Only the Chelsea contingent will have a bigger smile on their face, because United should comfortably progress past Shakhtar, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad.

The Spaniards have lost Asier Illarramendi but will still put up a fight, Bayer Leverkusen will be without Andre Schurrle while Shakhtar have replaced Willian with Bernard. They're also without Fernandinho.

All three are decent European teams - Shakhtar especially were impressive last term - but United will be confident of progression.

Arsenal

Without doubt the toughest group for an English team. Borussia Dortmund might not have Mario Gotze, but they've invested wisely - bringing in Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang.

They'll fancy a knock-out spot.

Napoli, likewise have spent big following the sale of Edinson Cavani - signing Gonzalo Higuain, Raul Albiol, Dries Mertens, and Jose Callejon. So Arsenal could be tussling the Italians for the second place.

Even Marseille will pose a tough test. They've added Dimitri Payet and Giannelli Imbula without losing any big names this summer. And the Stade Velodrome is a formidable place to travel. But having come through Fenerbahce in Turkey, Arsenal should be confident.

Chelsea

A great draw for the Blues. Schalke, Basel and Steaua Bucharest is slightly more forgiving than last year's offering - Juventus, Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Nordsjaelland.

Jose Mourinho desperately wanted the Champions League trophy during his first stint at Stamford Bridge. He couldn't have wished for a better start to achieving that aim in his second.

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Topics:
Arsenal
Manchester City
Football
Chelsea
Manchester United

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