With the Champions League draw taking place today we take a look at some of the sides the British teams will want to avoid. And there is the possibility of Celtic of facing an English side.
Manchester City & Celtic may want to avoid the following from Pot 1:
Bayern Munich – Reigning champions with a new manager in Pep Guardiola at the helm, who knows a thing or two about being successful in this competition having won it twice as manager with Barcelona. Bayern have also begun the German season strongly and look as though they will be in the mix again come the business end of the competition.
Barcelona – This side has gone through a degree of change but still has quality throughout to trouble anyone given their pedigree of three European Cup wins in the past seven seasons. They still possess the threat of Lionel Messi, the best player on the planet in the eyes of many. It’d be a shock if they didn’t finish top of whatever group they end up in.
Real Madrid – City squared up against Real Madrid in the group stages last season, and came very close to a famous win at the Bernabeu having led twice, scoring their second but went on to lose the game. Madrid are now playing under Carlo Ancelotti, and there have been yet more changes at the club who are desperate to reclaim the European Cup for the first time in 12 seasons. They still have threats all over the park, with the likes of Ozil, Di Maria, Modric, Ronaldo, and possibly Gareth Bale to add to that.
Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal & Celtic may want to avoid the following from Pot 2:
Atletico Madrid – Capable of beating anyone on their day so will be a test for all of the home sides if they were drawn against them. They have a very strong attacking line having recently signed David Villa from Barcelona to partner Diego Costa up front.
Shakhtar Donetsk – Were drawn in the same group as Chelsea last season and managed to finish above them, knocking Chelsea into the Europa League. They have lost a couple of players from that squad, notably Fernandinho to Manchester City
Paris Saint Germain – Does anyone really want to face the French sugar daddy with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani amongst their armoury?
Juventus: The Italian Champions who made the quarter finals last year and are a dangerous side. With Pirlo pulling the strings, Juve had added Carlos Tevez to their side alongside Llorente which could make them dark horses for this competition, and dangerous to face in the group stages.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal & Celtic may want to avoid the following in Pot 3:
Borussia Dortmund: Having got to the final last season and lost to Bayern Munich, people were thinking that Dortmund would never come as close for a couple of years and that all their best players will depart to Bayern. Not everyone has followed Gotze to Bayern as Dortmund have managed to keep hold of Robert Lewandowski for now. Expect them to still be a threat, and a side that no-one will really want to come up against.
Galatasaray: Does any side want to go to hell? No, especially not with Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder in their ranks as the Turkish side look as if they can be a real threat again this season. Last year they were knocked out in a thriller against Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage so they can trouble sides. Former Liverpool winger Albert Riera is also part of their squad along with former Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue.
Bayer Leverkusen – They usually perform solidly in European competition and make it to the knockout stages, though they have only been in the Champions League once in the past seven years. But they do have one or two quality players in their ranks with last season’s Bundesliga top scorer in Stefan Kiessling along with captain Lars Bender – two players who have attracted interest from other clubs, and are managed by former Liverpool centre-half Sami Hyypia.
Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal & Manchester City may want to avoid the following in Pot 4
Napoli – Now under the guidance of former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, Napoli have a squad and a manager with very good European pedigree – with a few names that people will recognise. Pepe Reina is there on loan and Napoli managed to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid. Former West Ham midfielder Valon Behrami is on their books along with Spanish defender Raul Albiol, and Goran Pandev. They could be very dangerous opponents.
Who do you think the British sides should be concerned about facing?
image: © Jan S0L0