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UEFA Champions League Group Draw: Group A is Group of Death

The world’s highest level soccer competition is back. The UEFA Champions League had its draw for the group stage today. Play begins on Sept. 13. Here is a brief look at the groups.

Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli

This is the definite group of death. Each is a top four finisher in one of the top four leagues. Bayern drew two of the top three teams from the bottom two pots. Trying to find their footing and struggling with depth, they now must compete in every match. Manchester City should be one of the favorites to advance.

Group B: Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor

This is an okay draw for Inter. On paper, they are easily the best team. The trouble will be their complacency heading into three tough away matches. Lille will be much more formidable if they can keep Eden Hazard away from Arsenal.

Group C: Manchester United, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati

UEFA provided Man U with its customary doormats, arguably the easiest team in each pot. Their reserve team would be heavy favorites in this group.

Group D: Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb

Drawn together again. Real Madrid and Lyon have met in the Champions League four times in the past six years, either in the group stage or in a knockout round. Generally, the results have been competitive. Expect both to go through.

Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Genk

Average group. Chelsea may struggle to find a balance between youthful pace and veteran physicality in the league, but inertia should carry them through.

Group F: Arsenal, Marseilles, Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund

The jolt from the German champions in the fourth pot makes this the second most competitive group. Arsenal and Dortmund are the two favorites. Though, Marseilles generally come after teams and Olympiakos generally are stronger than expected.

Group G: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit, APOEL

Seriously? This group is just unwatchable. The only positive is that the two winners will be drawn in separate pairings in the first knockout round and be eliminated.

Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzen

A spectacle, but a fait accompli. Barcelona and Milan, at least for the names, should be appointment viewing. The result will be irrelevant as both should go through. Can Viktoria master BATE to move onto the Europa League?

[Photo via Getty]

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