The UEFA Champions League Group Draw is today at noon ET. You can watch the draw live on FSC or online here. For the novices, the Champions League is the biggest soccer tournament in a non-World Cup year. Not as much emotion, but a higher standard of soccer. Clubs are seeded in four pots based on their UEFA coefficients. Clubs from the same country must be drawn in separate groups. My predictions: a futuristic stage setup fit for a Bond movie, forty minutes of pointless palaver and, hopefully, an attractive female.
This draw appears more open than normal. Normal stalwarts Liverpool and Juventus failed to qualify for this year’s tournament. Sevilla, who would have been seeded in the first pot, were eliminated in the playoff. This pushed lesser teams, such as Marseille and Shakhtar Donetsk into Pot Two. We may see fewer marquee matchups, but the groups may be far less predictable.
Two potentially interesting stories: Where does Real Madrid end up? They are the only marquee team in the second pot. Jose Mourinho facing one of his old clubs, either Chelsea or Inter Milan, could spice things up. Another story is Tottenham. Outside the traditional top four, their performance in this competition could shed light on the Premier League’s status compared to other leagues.
Here are the groups with some preliminary thoughts.
[Photo via Getty]
Group A: Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente
Not a bad draw for Spurs. Twente lost Steve McClaren. Bremen play an open style that will suit them. They have experience playing against Rafa Benitez.
Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv
This won’t be first on the DVR list, but Lyon, Benfica and Schalke are all tough teams. This should be interesting.
Group C: Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor
Man U escape with an easy draw again. Valencia sold the two Davids (Silva and Villa). Rangers are Scottish.
Group D: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, FC København, Rubin
The top two teams should go through pretty easily. Though, Rubin pulled off four results in a group with Barca and Inter last year.
Group E: Bayern Munich, Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj
Bayern and Roma through. Fairly straight forward.
Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina
Didier Drogba goes back to Marseilles. Abramovich goes back to Russia. Chelsea with ease.
Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, AJ Auxerre
Rematch from last year. A ton of history in this group. Reliant on aged talent, AC Milan could be in trouble.
Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan
Could be a deceptively tough group for Arsenal. Three rough away trips. Braga knocked off Sevilla to get here.