What a draw! Here are my thoughts.
Manchester City: (Group D with Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen). They can’t get an easy draw to save their lives! Last year it was Real Madrid and Dortmund and now they have Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow (don’t underestimate them)! And I guess they won’t find it easier in subsequent competitions until they go far in the competition and increase their ranking.
Manchester United: (Group A with Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad). It’s not exactly the group of death, but teams like Shakhtar and Leverkusen are very tricky. And Real Sociedad could put up a good fight.
Chelsea: (Group E with Schalke, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest). Jose Mourinho really IS the HAPPY ONE! This looks like a pretty smooth course for the Blues to advance. Chelsea SHOULD be able to cut through these opponents like a hot knife through butter. I’m thinking Roman Abramovich rolled around in a bed of four-leaf clovers and walked around for weeks with a necklace of rabbit feet in order to get this draw.
Real Madrid: (Group B with Juventus, Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen). Compared to previous years, it’s not a difficult draw. Of course Juventus will be a tough customer. And Galatasaray, and playing in their cauldron of a stadium is always tricky. However, Real Madrid should progress with no fuss.
Groups of Death: Yes, I said groups! There are two!
Group of Death 1: (Group H with Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic). Ajax just can’t seem to shake the giants of Spain; last two years it was Real Madrid, and this year it’s Barcelona. But as former champions, they will put up a fight! Then for the second year in a row, AC Milan and Celtic are pitted against Barcelona. Celtic’s manager, Lennon must be ruefully shaking his head. After coming through a thriller just to qualify for the group stages yesterday, they are faced with another daunting task. But there’s hope for AC Milan and Celtic! Last time around, they made Barcelona work hard to advance, and the Blaugrana’s didn’t look too convincing in topping the group. I expect them to put up more of a fight and qualification from this group to go down to the wire.
Group of Death 2: (Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli). Dear GOD! As the group was announced the hearts of all Arsenal fans sank to the floor. Marseille, Dortmund and Napoli are all tough customers. In years past, Arsenal fans might have been confident that they would progress. But after getting spanked by an Aston Villa team that people would rate well below any of these three opponents, the future looks bleak for Arsenal. Unless of course, they open up their deep pockets and give Wenger therapy sessions to cure his spendophobia, and allow him to buy/loan players to add to their weakened squad. And if history is any indication, that won’t happen. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride, Gunners! I hope Wenger and the Arsenal prove me wrong though. But right now, I have no idea who may progress from this group. Perhaps Dortmund…
The draw looks competitive. The match-ups are tantalizing. What more could you ask for from the Champions League.
I JUST CAN’T WAIT!!!!