The Champions League group stage draw takes place later today and due to the new format introduce ahead of this season’s campaign in Europe’s top competition, we’ve been placed in pot 2 for the first time in 15 years.
It means that we can be drawn against the champions from the top seven domestic leagues in Europe, which includes some potentially tough opponents, though there are teams in the first pot which will be considered a favourable draw should we be included in the same group.
Given that we’ve been eliminated at the last-16 stage of the competition for the past five years, a tough outcome this evening may well cause fears about our European adventure this season.
Below we’ve constructed the best case scenario we can hope for, as well as the dreaded group of death we’ll inevitably get drawn into.
Best case scenario:
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Group A: PSV, Arsenal, Galatasaray, Astana.
Dutch champions PSV find themselves in pot 1 and despite the fact that they knocked us out in 2007, playing against them this time around shouldn’t be too difficult. Travel is important during the group stages given that most of our Champions League fixtures are followed by tough Premier League games and having a tie in Holland is rather ideal.
Galatasaray were in our group last year and the aggregate score after both games read: Arsenal 8-2 Galatasaray. Despite the fact that they’ve strengthened, including the arrival of Lukas Podolski, we should experience some comfortable games against the Turkish giants.
In Astana, we have the Kazakhstan champions who make their first appearance in Europe’s premier club competition. Funnily enough, we never get to face these types of teams and it will certainly be intriguing if we do.
Worst case scenario:
Group B: Barcelona, Arsenal, Roma, Wolfsburg.
Barcelona are certainly the team to avoid in this competition and with the frontline they possess, it’s hard to see them not becoming the first team to retain the Champions League since its inception.
Roma have consistently been the side close to challenging Juventus in Serie A and they’ve certainly strengthened this summer, adding Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko to the array of talent already in their squad.
The fact that Wolfsburg are positioned in pot 4 is rather baffling. The Bundesliga side are the burgeoning team in European football and are heavily backed by commercial behemoths in Germany. Whatever happens with Kevin De Bryune, they still have a strong team.