With the September 17th kick off of the Champions League looming, the fates of the British teams involved have been made clearer by recent form and the draw of the group stages. Here is a preview of each team's respective chances and aspirations for the forthcoming European campaign.
Group F: ARSENAL, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli.
Drawn in an exceptionally tough group, the doomsayers at Arsenal were silenced with the sensational acquisition of Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid. However, the frailties of Arsene Wenger's squad, particularly in defence and up front, mean a prolonged challenge on four fronts will seriously stretch the Gunners.
Arsenal will face stiff competition from last season's finalists Borussia Dortmund, buoyed from the coup of retaining the services of Robert Lewandowski, and Rafael Benitez's rejuvenated Napoli side, whose Summer activity in the transfer window has began to repair the damage of the crippling losses of Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani to PSG.
However, injuries permitting, Arsenal should have enough quality to qualify for the knockout stages, despite a realistic challenge for European glory looking beyond them at this moment in time.
Group E: CHELSEA, Schalke, FC Basel, Steaua Bucharest.
In contrast to the fortunes of rivals Arsenal, Chelsea look to have effectively been given a bye to the next round after a relatively easy draw.
The focus will be not on the opposition for Chelsea, but on Jose Mourinho, whose team selection will be under scrutiny after showing a knack for isolating key players, e.g. Iker Casillas during his time at Madrid and now Juan Mata.
If Mourinho can maintain harmony in his Chelsea dressing room the Blues should enjoy success, and will surely be Britain's main hope of European glory this season; however, a lack of genuinely world-class strikers could haunt the Blues, despite boasting a dream-team of attacking midfielders.
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, MANCHESTER CITY, Viktoria Plzen.
Drawn alongside the team that nobody wanted to face, Manchester City will have their work cut out against Pep Guardiola's men who, despite undergoing something of a transitional period, are still surely one of the world's best club sides.
Add to this the difficulty of a long-haul flight to Russia and Manuel Pellegrini will have reason to believe the draw could have been much kinder to the Citizens. However, City fans will be reasonably confident of progression to the next round, although early season form suggests against a prolonged challenge for European honours this season.
Expect City's best Champions League campaign to date if skipper Vincent Kompany can remain fit for the big games.
Group A: MANCHESTER UNITED, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad.
David Moyes will be quietly confident of progressing from a group which, despite containing a Shakhtar Donetsk side who have caused British teams plenty of problems in recent years, could have been far worse.
Shakhtar have lost the services of their key players in recent times, including the likes of Willian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and despite still boasting a strong side and a dedicated fan base, should not offer too much of a challenge for United in Moyes' first ever Champions League group stage campaign.
The other two sides should be no match for United's superior squad, although the knockout stages will be an entirely different proposition.
Moyes' lack of European experience could be a deciding factor, and while United should comfortably reach the quarter-finals, it remains to be seen whether the once-great side can still rub shoulders amongst Europe's elite without Sir Alex Ferguson at the helm.
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, CELTIC.
The group of death will not be a source of optimism amongst Celtic fans. Barcelona may have been conquered at Celtic Park once; however, whether they can do so again is questionable, particularly after the losses of key players Gary Hooper and Victor Wanyama.
The return of Kaka to a strong Milan side already boasting the likes of Mario Balotelli and Stephane El-Shaarawy will strike fear into Celtic hearts. As for Ajax, they may have lost Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld, but will still offer too much for a depleted Celtic side.
Expect exit at the group stages for a Celtic side boasting enviable heart, but sadly suffering after the demise of Rangers and the consequent lack of interest in the SPL.
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