The much anticipated draw for the Uefa Champions’ League group stages is finally out. This has reduced to a small extent the adrenaline in most football fans’ stomach. However, there are certain group stage matches that will determine who proceeds to the last 16 and who goes to Europa League.
These encounters are not only adrenaline rushing but also brutal. This doesn’t mean that other matches are less important. In fact, they will add more intrigue, twists and nasty surprises into the Champions League making it more interesting.
GROUP A: AtleticoMadrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo
GROUP B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets
GROUP C: Benfica, Zenit St-Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco GROUP
GROUP D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht
GROUP E: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKAMoscow, ASRoma GROUP
GROUP F: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, APOEL
GROUP G: Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting, Maribor
GROUP H: Porto, Shaktar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal has once again been drawn with the Bundesliga outfit after surviving Beskitas’ scare and squeezing through the group stages. Arsene Wenger knows too well that the best way to have a good shot at the Champions League trophy is to top group D.
He has borne the brunt of being runners-up in the group stages more than once. Arsenal has been repeatedly knocked out of the last 16 stage by Bayern Munich in the last two seasons. On the other hand, Jürgen Klopp would want to bolster his chances of reaching the finals like he did in 2012/2013.
The 47-year old also would want to right the wrongs done last season after being defeated 1-0 by Arsenal at the Signal Iduna Park. The first leg is on 16th September 2014 at Signal Iduna Park and a return leg on 26th November 2014 at Emirates Stadium.
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City
The 2013/2014 German champions have been drawn with their English counterparts. Manuel Pellegrini’s side beat Pep Guardioala’s side 3-2 although they were the runners-up in their group. This earned them a date with Barcelona who went on and knocked them out of the competition.
Bayern Munich went on ahead to reach the semi-finals where they were knocked out by Real Madrid with a humbling 5-0 aggregate. Pep Guardiola is set to take a second stab at the trophy with Bayern Munich and knows the importance of winning this fixture.
Come to think of it, Bayern Munich were set to become the first German side to proceed to last 16 stage with maximum18 points only for Man City to spoil their party at the Alianz Arena.The first leg is on 17th September at Alianz Arena with a return leg on25th November 2014 at Etihad Stadium.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool
The 10-times European champions are set to clash with the 5-times European champions in what appears to be a sentimental encounter. Carlo Ancelotti’s men are set to defend the title and are keen to be the first ones to retain the title since 1992. However they must endure the daunting trip to Anfield on 22nd October before they host Liverpool at Santiago Bernabeu on 4th November. Liverpool will also have to cope with the pressures of the Champions League, something they have not been doing since 2010.
Barcelona vs Paris Saint Germain
The Spanish heavyweights have been grouped alongside the 2013/2014 French champions. Laurent Blanc’s side need to show resilience and tenacity especially after missing out narrowly on semi-finals to Chelsea on account of away goals after 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge.
Barcelona’s campaign was cut short by Diego Someone’s Atletico Madrid beat them 1-0 aggregate at the quarter finals. Luis Enrique’s men have to make a short trip to Parc des Princes Pac on 30th September before they host the French outfit on 10th December at Camp Nou. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to make a sensational return to his former club and show them they made a mistake by telling him he was surplus to requirements.
Now all you have to do is mark the dates on your calendars and wait for these breathtaking encounters.