The top 32 clubs in Europe listed on a big screen. Eight glass pots. Dozens of star-laden tiny soccer balls with names and letters tucked inside. A room full of soccer royalty dressed in suits. Legends of the game such as Luis Figo, Billy McNeill, Michael Owen and Paulo Sousa gracing a stage fit for an awards show, a huge trophy sitting front and center. It can only mean one thing: The UEFA Champions League Draw.
Held today in Monaco, the draw provided fans plenty of intrigue for this year’s competition, which kicks into full gear when group play begins September 17.
Here’s how it all broke down:
Arsenal was drawn into a difficult Group F with last year’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund, a new-look Napoli guided by Rafa Benetiz, who won the competition with Liverpool in 2005, and Ligue 1’s second-best Marseille.
Reigning champions Bayern Munich were matched in Group D with Manchester City. Legendary clubs Real Madrid and Juventus will square off in Group B, which also features a threat from a Galatasaray side featuring past UCL champions Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder.
Group H is historic, pitting four past champions, Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic against each other.
Chelsea will face familiar foes Basel and Steaua Bucharest, two sides the Blues beat last year en route winning the UEFA Europa League after failing to advance from the UCL group stage.
Manchester United manager David Moyes received a warm welcome in his first Champions League season with the Red Devils drawn against Ukrainian champions Shaktar Donetsk, 3rd place German Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, and Real Sociedad, who won a play-off to advance to the group stage after finishing 4th in La Liga.
What do you think? After seeing this draw, who are your favorites to advance in the competition? Which UEFA Champions League Group is the “Group of Death”? Which big team got it easy? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!