The Champions League group stages were drawn today in Monaco with different results for the four Bundesliga clubs involved. Each German club will face a English side in their group though, putting the Bundesliga and the Premier League in direct competition with each other this season.
Title defense starts now for Bayern
The last time a team successfully defended the European Cup was back in 1990 when Milan won it the second year running. Bayern now face a task that not even the great Barcelona of the last couple of years pulled off. The defending champions got arguably the most favorable draw of the four German sides though with CSKA Moscow, Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen.
Bayern won a group containing Manchester City two years ago but face a new challenge against Pellegrini’s new look City. Facing them also are two trips to the Czech Republic and Russia that haven’t always been easy traditionally for clubs in Europe.
Tricky draws for Schalke, Leverkusen and Dortmund
Last year’s runners up, Borussia Dortmund, got a sense of deja vu as they were again drawn in a group with Arsenal and Marseille, two sides they faced in the group stages two years ago. Dortmund failed to make it out of the group then but is probably now considered the favorite. Still, in Marseille, Arsenal and Napoli, Dortmund find themselves in arguably the most competitive group of the draw.
Bayer Leverkusen meanwhile also face a tough test in Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk and one of the potential dark horses in Real Sociedad. Leverkusen have not won any of their nine matches in England and lost all of their last six games against Premier League opposition. Alongside Dortmund’s group, this too could be considered the strongest of the draw.
Finally, Schalke face last year’s Europa League winners Chelsea, Swiss champions Basel and Romanian champions Steaua Bucharest. Although the draw seems manageable for Schalke on paper they struggled to qualify for the group stages and have had a poor start to the season.
The full draw:
The Champions League group stages kick off on September 17th and the 18th with the final held on May 24th next year in Lisbon, Portugal.
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