Being in Pot 2 doesn’t appear to have done Manchester City any favours, as they face Bayern Munich and Roma in their UEFA Champions League group.
The Blues will be competing in the premier club competition of European football for the fourth successive campaign, and during this time they have become accustomed to being drawn in difficult groups. In 2011-12 they finished behind Bayern and Napoli in a pool which also included Spanish side Villarreal, and the following season they finished bottom of Group D which included Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, and Ajax of Amsterdam.
They had more joy last season when they finished second to Real Madrid, having got the better of Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow. Yet even after reaching the last-16 luck was against them, as they crashed out to Barcelona over two legs. And although they could reasonably have expected a more comfortable route into the knockout stages this term after being placed in Pot 2, they will face Bayern, Serie A runners-up Roma, and CSKA again.
City’s director of football, Txiki Begiristain, told the official club website: “All the clubs try to play good football, Roma have done very well and we are familiar with Bayern Munich. It will be an amazing group. We are happy with the squad that we have now for this season and we are ready again to fight for everything. We have signed some very good players and the aim is to improve in the Champions League, we will try to go further.”
Liverpool have returned to the Champions League after an absence of five-years, and they will take on current holders Real Madrid in Group B. The Reds have good memories of taking on the Spanish giants in the past, having beat them 1-0 to lift the trophy back in 1981. They will also face Swiss side Basle, and Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria, in a group they will certainly fancy their chances of progressing to the last-16 from.
“To be back in it again, no matter who we were going to play, it was always going to be exciting,” manager Brendan Rodgers told the official club website. “But to have Real Madrid in your group, the champions last season, is going to be special. I’m already thinking of Anfield on that night. But there are two other good teams in it along with us. It’s a tough group but we’ll really look forward to the challenge of getting out of the group.”
Whilst City arguably have the toughest task, Arsenal’s isn’t too far behind. The Gunners negotiated a playoff against Besiktas to reach the group stage for the 17th successive season, courtesy of a single Alexis Sanchez goal in the second leg, and they have been pitted in Group D along with Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht. Chelsea, meanwhile, will be the happiest of the Premier League contingent. Jose Mourinho’s side will take on Schalke – a team they beat 3-0 home and away last season – Sporting Lisbon, and Maribor.
Group A: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo
Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets
Group C: Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco
Group D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht
Group E: Bayern Munich, Man City, CSKA Moscow, Roma
Group F: Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, Apoel Nicosia
Group G: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Sporting, Maribor
Group H: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE