UEFA Champions League draw threw up a gamut of emotions. The draw that saw former legends Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Charlton and Luis Figo grace the stage, also saw few clubs getting away with an easy group, while some were not so lucky. TheHardTackle presents an analysis.

The UCL Groups

Group A

FC Bayern Munchen (GER)

Villarreal CF (ESP)

Manchester City FC (ENG)

SSC Napoli (ITA)

Easily the group of death in this year’s Champions League draws. With all the teams having the potential to qualify, every match in Group A will be a nail-biter for sure. While Bayern possesses a young team capable of taking Europe by storm, Man City is being bank-rolled by none other than Sheikh Mansour. It’s really amazing to see how Man City has claimed a spot in the Champions League when just a few years back, they were slugging it out in the Europa front. Napoli will have a tough time contending with the likes of Aguero, but they are no pushovers having the likes of Cavani, Hamsik, Lavezzi and Inler in their ranks. The Yellow Submarine, on the other hand would look to upset all calculations and stake their claim for qualification from this group.

Group B

FC Internazionale Milano (ITA)


LOSC Lille Metropole (FRA)

Trabzonspor AS (TUR)

Can Inter climb to the top?

Former winners Internazionale find themselves in a relatively comfortable position in this group, having drawn the likes of Lille and newcomers Trabzonspor. Even though Gervinho has left Lille to join Arsenal, the Ligue 1 champions should sail through without much hindrance. Trabzonspor were a last minute addition to this draw, when they replaced Fenerbahce, as they were accused of match-fixing. The runners-up of the 2010-11 Turkish League, Trabzonspor will find this group to be a pretty tough one. CSKA Moskva, the 2011 Russian Cup winners, would push their claim as the second-best team in this group, especially as they have the likes of Vagner Love and Keisuke Honda within their ranks.

Group C

Manchester United FC (ENG)

SL Benfica (POR)

FC Basel 1893 (SUI)

FC Otelul Galati (ROU)

English champions Man United face off against the Portuguese powerhouse Benfica in Group C. Last year’s runners-up, Man United, would leave no stones unturned to claim their stake as the best team in Europe as they take on Basel and Otelul, in what would otherwise be a relatively easier group for the Red Devils. Benfica and Swiss side Basel would slug it out for the second spot in this group. FC Basel are no pushovers by any stretch of imagination as they are the only Swiss club to have qualified a total of 4 times in the Champions League. They are also the first and the only Swiss club to have ever qualified directly for the Champions League group-stages. Their upward trend began after 2002, after lifting the Swiss Cup. The fourth team in the fray is newcomers Otelul, a Romanian side who qualified by virtue of being the 2010-11 champions of Liga I.

Group D

Real Madrid CF (ESP)

Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)

AFC Ajax (NED)

GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)

Old foes Madrid and Lyon square off in Group D, which also has the current Eredivisie champion, Ajax and the 69th team according to UEFA club coefficient ranking, Dinamo Zagreb. This group sees Madrid back with the same clubs they dealt with last season – Ajax in group stages and Lyon in the round of 16. In what seems to be Mourinho’s last season in the Santiago Bernabeu, the wily Portuguese would do anything possible to swat the other three teams in a bid to recapture the Champions League. While Mourinho walks a thin line for sure, Dinamo Zagreb would look to make their presence felt too. Currently on a roll, having won their sixth consecutive Prva NHL title, the Croatian champions might find the European waters a tad too out of their league.

Group E

Chelsea FC (ENG)

Valencia CF (ESP)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER)

KRC Genk (BEL)

Chelsea FC vs Valencia CF

Chelsea enter group E as favorites and for good reason as Valencia and Leverkusen will have to cope with the departures of their two best players from last season: Juan Mata and Arturo Vidal, respectively. Mata will make a return to the stadium where he gained so much recognition while former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack will relish the prospect of facing his old side. While Belgian Champions, Genk will want to make an impression in the Champions League and in Chelsea target Kevin De Bruyne, they have a potential star. Chelsea should qualify from the group without too much fuss leaving Leverkusen and Valencia to fight it out for the other spot.

Group F

Arsenal FC (ENG)

Olympique de Marseille (FRA)

Olympiacos FC (GRE)

Borussia Dortmund (GER)

A tasty draw in Group F, wherein on paper, Arsenal and German Champions Borussia Dortmund – the side from pot four that every team wanted to avoid – are the best bets to qualify to the knockout rounds. But, both sides have also lost key players in Cesc Fabregas and Nuri Sahin to Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. However, they are sides capable of playing absolutely delicious football on their day and are certainly right up there among the most entertaining teams in Europe. Indeed, Dortmund start off the tournament as potential dark horses to the Champions League title. It would be foolish though to rule out Marseille and Olympiacos who have plenty of Champions League experience to cause problems to Arsenal and Dortmund.

Group G

FC Porto (POR)

FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)

FC Zenit St Petersburg (RUS)


Group G favorites are Europa League Champions FC Porto, a team that shattered so many records last season. They have grown weaker though with the loss of the two most important components in the form of manager Andre Villas-Boas and striker Radamel Falcao. Shakhtar’s run last season to the Champions League quarter-final was impressive to say the least, and they were only knocked out by eventual Champions Barcelona. The Donbass arena in Ukraine is one of the most intimidating environments in Europe and could serve as a fortress to Shakhtar’s cause. While Luciano Spalletti’s free flowing Zenit side should definitely not be ignored. Cyprus side, APOEL begin the group as outsiders.

Group H

FC Barcelona (ESP)

AC Milan (ITA)

FC BATE Borisov (BLR)

FC Viktoria Plzeň (CZE)

Luis Figo at the draw

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gianluca Zambrotta will face-off against their old side in Group H. Earlier in the week, Milan Coach Max Allegri claimed only reigning Champions Barcelona were better than his side in Europe and now he has the chance to battle against the Blaugrana. Both the teams have made key reinforcements to their side and the Champions League is high on their priorities. They face competition from Belarusian Champions Bate Borisov, who have European experience to their name and Czech Replubic Champions Viktoria Plzeň, who enter the competition for the first time in their history. Barca and Milan are firm favorites to qualify and barring a ridiculous miracle, they will not disappoint.