PREMIER League holders Manchester City face a difficult task if they are to avoid another early Champions League exit, while Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United will all be hopeful of progressing to the latter stages following yesterday’s group stage draw.
City were placed in the fabled Group of Death, with Roberto Mancini’s side taking on Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.
The three other English sides were handed considerably easier tasks overall, although Chelsea will have to take on Juventus in addition to Shakhtar Donetsk and Danish first-time participants Nordsjaelland, while Manchester United face a tough trip to Galatasaray, with unfancied sides Braga and CFR Cluj making up their group.
Arsenal, who are in the group stages for the 15th consecutive season, will be confident of overcoming Schalke, Olympiacos and Montpellier. Celtic, though, are likely to face an uphill struggle, having been placed in Group G alongside Benfica, Spartak Moscow and Barcelona, whose midfielder Andres Iniesta was yesterday named European player of the year, fending off competition from Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barca team-mate Lionel Messi.
ENGLISH TEAMS IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Hoping to better last year’s last 16 finish
Huntelaar should fill void left by Raul
Rafik Djebbour provides firepower
Maiden participation for Giroud’s ex-club
Hoping for repeat of miraculous success
Solid side with several experienced players
Ageing Pirlo makes Old Lady tick
Expected to be whipping boys of group
Nine-time winners seeking to end Euro wait
Hoping to avoid another group stage exit
Rich history not matched by current side
Free-flowing football expected once again
Seeking a fourth Champions League crown
Scraped through qualifiers, not a force
Possess several ex-Premier League players
More than likely heading for an early exit