English clubs' Champions League groups assessment

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It took nearly 45 minutes but the English clubs finally found out who they'd face in the Champions League group stage on Thursday afternoon. The overly prolonged draw, which only had to determine eight groups, took place in Monaco and featured an array of former stars, most of which were ex-Barcelona. 

The awkward presenting of Peter Schmeichel and Melanie Winiger as well as the all too apparent language barrier (not helped by some questionable translating) made it quite an ordeal but Groups A to H were finally decided.

Chelsea found themselves in Pot 1 having won the Premier League last season, while Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United were all put into Pot 2. So who has the draw been kind to and who faces an uphill task?


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Teams: PSV, CSKA Moscow, Wolfsburg

Louis van Gaal will certainly be satisfied with United's group considering who they could have faced. The Red Devils managed to dodge European heavy-weights Barcelona and Bayern Munich. United fans will have been breathing a sigh of relief when they went into Group B with PSV, who came out of Pot 1. Van Gaal will thus visit his native Holland, though the bigger story is that Memphis Depay will come up against his former club.

Thankfully for United the Dutch champions have been weakened by the departures of Depay and also Georginio Wijnaldum who has moved to Newcastle. The Dutch side still have a few young stars at their disposal but shouldn't pose too stern a test to United.

The third team put into United's group was Russian side CSKA Moscow. Last season's Russian League runners-up have been strengthened by the return of Seydou Doumbia. An away clash in Moscow will present an intimidating atmosphere for United but again their superior quality should prevail.

It was looking like just about the perfect group until German side Wolfsburg came out. Last season's Bundesliga runners-up have some quality players such as Ricardo Rodriguez, Ivan Perisic and Bas Dost, who managed 16 goals last season. They look likely to lose Kevin De Bruyne which will be a blow but even if he leaves they still have enough quality in their squad to give United a real examination and challenge for top spot.


Teams: Juventus, Sevilla, Borussia Monchengladbach

City have had terrible luck with the group stage draw in recent years. Once again they've been handed a tricky group, though on paper they have experienced worse. The stand-out opponent is of course Italian champions Juventus, who reached the final last season.

They may have lost some key players in the shape of Andrea Pirlo and Carlos Tevez but they've recruited plenty of new talent this summer. Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala have bolstered their attacking options meaning City will have to be at their best to get the better of the Old Lady.

Europa League holders Sevilla will also be far from push overs. The Spanish side are a good team as they showed in the Super Cup where they were only narrowly beaten by Barcelona. Fifth place finishers in La Liga last season, they've lost star striker Carlos Bacca but brought in Fernando Llorente as well as completing a loan deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Ciro Immobile. Thus it will be a tricky encounter with a spirited side.

Borussia Monchengladbach look the weakest of the four teams in the group. However even they will not be a walk in the park. They finished third in the Bundesliga last season, just three points behind Wolfsburg.

Though they have nowhere near the quality of City it will not be as simple as turning up for Pellegrini's men. This is City's fifth season in a row in the Champions League and they should be motivated by their previous disappointments. If they carry their league form into Europe they can go far despite a cruel group.


Teams: Bayern Munich, Olympiacos, Dinamo Zagreb

One of the major talking points from the draw is that Arsenal will face Bayern Munich in the Champions League for the third time in four seasons. The German champions will be formidable opposition for the Gunners.

They already had one of the best squads in Europe and they've only got stronger this summer thanks to the captures of Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa. Arsenal have made an underwhelming start to the season and facing up against the likes of Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Manuel Neuer, it's difficult to see them getting a result home or away.

Arsenal fans can at least take comfort in the fact that the other two teams in the group look beatable. Greek champions Olympiacos should not pose much of a threat to Arsene Wenger's team. They should expect a hostile crowd in the away fixture, but they have the necessary experience to deal with it.

Dinamo Zagreb complete Group F. The Croatian side have only reached the Champions League group stage twice in the last ten seasons and their lack of experience in the competition should result in a comfortable encounter for the North London club.

Bayern Munich are certainly the only opponent that Arsenal have to worry about. Unfortunately the Germans are on another level meaning Arsenal may have to settle for a second-place finish and thus a difficult Round of 16 draw.


Teams: Porto, Dynamo Kyiv, Maccabi Tel-Aviv

Being in Pot 1 meant Chelsea fans could relax in the knowledge that they were guaranteed a relatively kind draw. Jose Mourinho will make a return to Porto, the club at which he announced himself to the world by winning the competition with them in 2004.

It will no doubt be an emotional night for the Portuguese manager. Assuming Chelsea find some form then defeating Porto should not be a problem. The club has lost star striker Jackson Martinez which makes this an easier fixture than it might have been.

Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv were the third team drawn in Group G. They haven't got past the group stage since 1998/99, when they reached the semis. The Stamford Bridge fixture should be an easy encounter for The Blues, going away will be more testing but it's a test they're more than capable of passing with the quality at their disposal.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv of Israel don't stand much of a chance in this group. This is their first time in the group stage since 2004/05 and they surely don't have enough quality to compete with the other teams. A thrashing from Chelsea is on the cards if Mourinho let's his team loose. Overall it's a more than satisfactory group for Chelsea who can even afford to rest some of their key players. 

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