The reigning UEFA Champions League winners discovered who they will face in Europe’s elite competition this season and now prepare to start group play this week as they attempt to repeat last year’s glory. Having won La Decima in May this year, Real Madrid were handed a tough test against returning five time European winners Liverpool. Manchester City were again left cursing their luck after landing another demanding draw for their group stage matches against 2013 and five timer winner Bayern Munich.
Arsenal on the other hand, were drawn against German outfit and 2013 runners up Borussia Dortmund for the third time in four seasons. For the 17th time in a row, Arsenal qualified for Europe’s prime competition after brushing aside
Besiktas with a 1-0 aggregate win in the playoff match at the Emirates after finishing fourth in the Premier League last season. The Gunners will also have to navigate past Turkish side Galatasaray and Belgian champions Anderlecht FC. Club Secretary David Miles said the club was looking forward to their tricky trip to German to face Dortmund and he hoped for progress with a top finish in the group.
Another English side, Chelsea’s Mourinho will be the happiest with their Group G draw having been drawn against German side Schalke O4, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor. Chelsea secretary David Bernard revealed that Jose Mourinho was delighted with their group opponents and how happy he was.
For the second time in a row, English Champions Manchester City will face Bayern and CSKA Moscow. Also is the group, which has been touted as the group of death are AS Roma. Despite their 4-1 aggregate loss to Spanish giants Barcelona last season, City Director of Football Tixki Begiristain admitted they were placed in the toughest group of the tournament this season particularly with the addition of the Italian side Roma. AS Roma could throw a spanner in City and Bayern this season with the Italian second runners up not to be underestimated.
Liverpool face a challenging trip to the Bernabeu Stadium on 4th November to face a side they beat 1-0 in 1981 to clinch their third European title in Paris after Alan Kennedy’s goal. The game is bound to prove an exciting one, and if the prospect of an upset isn’t enough to persuade you to get your tickets soon, then a line up of Balotelli, Sterling, and Sturridge facing up against Bale, Ronaldo, and James, surely will. Brendan Rogers was delighted to be back in the competition but was keen to note that Carlo Ancelotti’s side will prove a tough test.
He was also keen to note that the other teams, which include FC Basel and newcomers Bulgarian side Ludogorets, will provide tough matches as well, but he was looking forward to the Real clash at Anfield in October 22nd. Ian Ayre, the club’s Chief Executive, added that it was definitely a tough group, but a fun and challenging test.
On the night of the draw, former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward and current Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo won the UEFA Best Player Award ahead of Bayern’s duo Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer.
Of their group clash with Liverpool, CR7 said it was going to be a nice match though he had never traveled to Anfield with Real. Cristiano also noted that the English side were a difficult team in the group but was hoping for a win in front of the Anfield faithful.
Liverpool came close to winning the Barclays Premier League last season but crumbled in the last few games, finishing just two points behind champions City.