The draws for the 2012/13 Champions League campaign were held today at the Grimaldi forum in Monaco with mixed results for Germany’s representatives. Borussia Dortmund were drawn into the proverbial Group of Death while their rivals Schalke will await visits from Lukas Podolski and Per Mertesacker’s Arsenal. Last year’s runners up Bayern München meanwhile got a favorable draw that should see them through the knockout stages without a problem.
Arsenal FC (ENG)
FC Schalke 04 (GER)
Montpellier Herault (FRA)
Real Madrid CF (ESP)
Manchester City (ENG)
AFC Ajax (NED)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
FC Bayern München (GER)
Valencia CF (ESP)
LOSC Lille (FRA)
FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
Last year’s runners up were drawn in a group with Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov. Valencia finished in third in La Liga last year and built a reputation over the last couple of years as Spain’s best team outside the big two. Bayern last played Valencia in the 2001 Champions League final which they won on penalties. Joining them are French runners up and 2011 champions Lille and Belarus’ BATE which should make for a quite manageable group for Bayern, as summed up by sporting director Matthias Sammer:
This is a manageable draw for us. Our goal is clear, we want to advance to the knockout stages – and as winners of the group. We will be very well prepared
19.09.2012 20.45 FC Bayern – FC Valencia
02.10.2012 20.45 BATE Borisov – FC Bayern
23.10.2012 20.45 OSC Lille – FC Bayern
07.11.2012 20.45 FC Bayern – OSC Lille
20.11.2012 20.45 FC Valencia – FC Bayern
05.12.2012 20.45 FC Bayern – BATE Borisov
Schalke set a tough challenge
Die Königsblauen were drawn in one of the most competitive groups of the tournament this season, with French and Greek champions Montpellier and Olympiakos as well as seasoned Eurpean veterans Arsenal. It is certainly a group Schalke can come out of but as coach Huub Stevens cautions, there are no easy opponents in the Champions League:
In this competition there are no easy opponents. We’re up against the French and Greek champions and an Arsenal side that have been in the competition for years. I am happy to see Arsene Wenger and Lukas Podolski again. I worked with him [Podolski] at Köln for a year. Arsenal lost a good player in Robin van Persie but everyone knows that the London club have been playing attractive football for years. Olympiakos is also a difficult opponent. I remember Dortmund’s struggles against them last year in Greece. Their stadium is tough to play in. And Montpellier didn’t become French champions by accident. We are looking forward to the games though and want to do our best.
Manager Horst Heldt outlined their goal to finish second while Lewis Holtby is looking forward to playing in England against a team he has always admired and wanted to play against.
Dortmund face Group of Death
Last year Bayern were drawn in the “Group of Death” and this year Borussia Dortmund had the misfortune of making up the toughest group in the competition. Their opponents, all champions of their respective leagues, Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax Amsterdam, should prove a stern test for Dortmund. Coach Jürgen Klopp is his usual optimistic self and relishes the chance of his team proving themselves against the best in Europe.
This group will bring great anticipation and excitement. Obviously Real Madrid and Manchester City have greater spending power than us but that won’t phase us. And we won’t go into the games thinking we cannot compete with them and who is greater and who is more expensive. Instead we’re going in wanting to make it very difficult for them.
Dortmund chief executive Joachim Watzke shares Klopp’s enthusiasm but makes no qualms about the difficulty of their draw.
This is an incredibly difficult but incredibly attractive group with three Champions League winners and the English champion. All four are domestic champions. In such a group heroes are born and we want to progress to the knockout stages.
All three will kick off their Champions League campaigns on September 18/9th on the road to the final in Wembley.
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