The UEFA Champions League draw revealed the path to the knockout stage for the remaining European clubs looking to extend their UCL hopes.
For some, the path will be tough, for others, it should be relatively simple. Before we make those distinctions, here are the groups:
|Zenit Saint Petersburg||Russia|
Winner: Manchester United- Lots of promise this season for Manchester United. They will seriously contend for the Premier League title with acquisitions like Morgan Schneiderlin, Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger; with their weak Champions League group, they may go far in that competition as well.
Their group, Group B, consists of PSV, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg. Moscow, like Man U, needed to get through qualifying in order reach this stage, while PSV, last year’s Eredivisie champions, will be weakened by Depay’s Manchester departure. Wolfsburg is a talented club that may well qualify as the second-best German team after Bayern Munich, but the impending departure of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne won’t help their case.
All in all, Manchester United should almost certainly escape this group with relative ease.
Loser: Olympiacos- The Greek club got hit with an incredibly hard draw: Group F with Bayern and Arsenal.
Bayern won the Champions League 2012-2013 and are the dominating side in the German Bundesliga. They are among the best in the world and seem extremely likely to advance out of this group. Arsenal are one of the most talented teams in the English Premier League and also seem to be almost certain knockout stage participants.
Barring a major upset, the Greek champions won’t be playing deeper into the UCL.
Winner: Lyon- Group H is no doubt the weakest of the bunch, respectively, so French side Lyon will most likely have an easier path.
Valencia is the strongest club in the group, finishing fourth in La Liga last season, and will have a good chance of going through. Gent and Zenit are both considered two of the weakest squads in the group stage, meaning Lyon should be able to fight off their early season Ligue 1 struggles–they have four points in three matches so far–to possibly reach the knockout stage.
While the trip to Russia will surely be a tough one, overall it’s a successful draw for Les Gones.
Loser: Sevilla- The two-time defending Europa League champions may just end up trying to defend their title again.
Sevilla drew Group D with last season’s runner-up Juventus and Premier League side Manchester City. While Borussia won’t as much of a challenge, finishing third and being relegated to the Europa League for a second consecutive year doesn’t seem all that unlikely for Sevilla.
Juventus is easily the top club in Italy while Man City have gotten off to a torrid start in the EPL, winning their first three games by a combined score of 8-0 en route to a top-of-the-table position; they have reinforcements coming as well, with de Bruyne reportedly being offered an “astonishing” wage, per BBC.
All in all, it’s disappointing for the Spanish outfit.
Winner: Zlatan Ibrahimović- PSG’s star forward may have been given a tough draw, but he will have the opportunity to return to his native land.
Ibrahimović, born in Malmö, Sweden, saw his French team draw the Swedish champions in Group A. He started his career in his hometown before moving to Ajax in 2001.
The other two teams in the group aren’t favorable, though. Real Madrid is the obvious one, having made to the semi-finals last year after winning the UCL the year before. Don’t count out Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk either, because they are a talented squad with plenty of experience.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Harrison Hamm