Skip to content

Champions League Group Stage Draw: Parity makes ‘Group of Death’ a tough label

Aug 29, 2013, 2:59 PM EST

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-MANCHESTER-FINAL Getty Images

Parity prevailed in today’s UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw where 32 teams were slotted into eight of the most evenly matched groups in tournament’s history.

The balance of the draw makes identifying a ‘Group of Death’ difficult but if it must be done, then Arsenal finds itself on the short end of the stick in Group F. The North London side, that qualified for the group stage by eliminating Fenerbahce 5-0 on aggregate in the play-offs, have been pitted against last year’s finalist, Borussia Dortmund, big spending Italian side Napoli and French outfit Olympique Marseille.

The matches are set to kick-off on September 17th. Below is a complete breakdown of all the groups.

source: Getty ImagesGroup A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad

David Moyes‘ hopes at winning a Champions League title took a huge boost when his side enjoyed a favorable Champions League draw when it was paired with Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, German side Bayer Leverkusen, La Liga outfit Real Sociedad. 

On paper, United should have little difficulty waltzing through this group, as their talent and experience is far superior to their competitors. On the pitch, however, they’ll do well to take nothing for granted.

Shakhtar are European veterans, having won the UEFA Cup in 2009 and produced some fine Champions League performances of late, including last year where they made it to the Round of 16 before falling to finalists Dortmund 5-2 on aggregate.

After losing starters Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Fernandinho and Ravzan Rat the Ukranian squad is in a rebuilding year and will face stiff competition for the second spot in the group with Leverkusen and Sociedad, who are both currently playing high quality football. The German side will look to goal-scorer Stefan Kießling to provide the edge while Mexican forward Carlos Vela will be primed to guide his side to the Round of 16.

Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Copenhagen source: Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid face one of the most difficult groups in the Champions League as they match up with Italian champions Juventus, Turkish Super League champions Galatasaray and Danish Superliga champions FC Copenhagen.

Madrid and Juventus will be the heavy favorites to come out of this group but traveling to Turkey is never an easy feat, especially when Didier Drogba is leading the line. Copenhagen will be the long shot to advance but the Danish side has plenty of European experience of late.

source:  Group C: Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Olympiacos, Anderlecht

Big money spenders Paris Saint-Germain have what is perhaps the easiest route through to the Round of 16.

Traveling to Portugal to face Europa League finalists Benfica and to Greece to play Super League winners Olympiacos will not be easy but the quality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani should be more than enough to overcome any hostile environments Le Parisiens may face.

Sacha Kljestan’s club Anderlecht, who won the 2012-13 Belgian Pro League, enter the tournament with a solid backbone of European experience but advancing through this group looks to be an uphill battle.

Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City,  Viktoria Plzen source:

Champions League title holders Bayern Munich have relatively clear-cut route through Group D as they face Manchester City, Russian champions CSKA Moscow and Czech champions Viktoria Plzen.

Manchester City will be relieved at having escaped the ‘Group of Death’ for the first time in three years and will look to the tactics of Manuel Pellegrini to guide them Champions League success as he did at Villareal and Malaga.

source:  Group E: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest 

2012 Champions League winners Chelsea will be licking their chops as they face German side Schalke 04, Swiss club Basel and Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest.

Schalke have the talent to find their way out of Group E but doubts have been raised after the German side narrowly snuck into the group stage after defeating Panathinaikos 4-3 win in Athens.

Swiss champions Basel can’t be counted out after Mohamed Salah and Fabian Frei helped the RotBlau to some impressive performances in last year’s Europa League. Basel stands alongside Steaua Bucharest as long-shots to make it through the group and return to the stage for the first time since 2008-09, where they finished in last place.

Group F: Arsenal, Olympique Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli source:

If this group looks familiar that’s because three of the four clubs – Arsenal, Marseille and Dortmund – all met in Group F back in the 2011-12 Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund will enter the stage as slight favorites after progressing to last year’s final, where they lost 2-1 to Bayern Munich. BVB lost playmaker Mario Gotze to Munich this summer but managed to hang on to striker Robert Lewandowski and replenish the ranks with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to name a few.

Dortmund is anything but safe, however, with Arsenal and Napoli in the group. Arsenal’s Champions League resume speaks for itself while Napoli have lost Serie A golden boot winner Edinson Cavani but have added quality signings that include Gonzalo Higuain, Jose Callejon, Raul Albiol and Pepe Reina.

Marseille will struggle to do damage in the group after qualifying for the UCL after finishing as runners-up in last season’s Ligue 1.

source:  Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Austria Wien

Group G poses yet another incredibly competitive group, with Portuguese champions Porto the slight favorites to advance.

It will be anything but easy, however, as Zenit Saint Petersburg will look to make up for last year’s showing where they finished third and were banished to the Europa League. Atletico Madrid will also be fancying their chances after finishing third in last year’s La Liga and starting this year’s campaign in an equally bright light with two straight victories.

Austria Wien will be up against it but the opponents would do well to avoid underestimating the side that knocked off Dinamo Zagreb 4-3 in aggregate in qualifying.

Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Celtic source:

If Group F is worthy of the moniker ‘Group of Death’, Group H is a close second.

The group is highlighted by Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, who will look to re-establish their European dominance under UEFA Champions League neophyte Gerardo Martino. It will be up to the Argentinian boss to guide the Blaugrana past Celtic, who famously defeated Barca 2-1 in the second leg of the two sides’ meeting in last year’s group stage.

Barcelona will also face off with AC Milan in a repeat of last year’s Round of 16 tilt where the Spanish giants roared back from a 2-0 first leg loss to score four goals in the second leg and win 4-2 on aggregate. Completing the group is Dutch powerhouse Ajax, who impressed in last year’s tournament when they finished 3rd in a group with Dortmund, Manchester City and Real Madrid.

The Group Stage matches will take place over the course of six matchdays beginning September 17th and concluding on December 11th. The top two teams from each Group will move on to the Round of 16, while the third place side will drop into the Europa League and the fourth placed club will be eliminated from European competition.

The Round of 16 will be played over two legs in February and March 2014, with the winners continuing on to a two-legged Quarterfinal in early April. The winners will march on to the Semifinals, which will be played in late April, before the winners head to the final at the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon, Portugal on May 24th, 2014.

Latest Posts
  1. VIDEO: Jurgen Klinsmann’s a stud, backheels TWO balls at the same time

    Jan 29, 2015, 11:43 AM EST

    jurgen_klinsmann Getty Images

    Watch Klinsmann’s insane piece of skill from the friendly vs. Chile on Wednesday. My word.

  2. Lots drawn: Guinea in, Mali out as Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals set

    Jan 29, 2015, 11:08 AM EST

    FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH24-GUI-MLI FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH24-GUI-MLI

    Guinea won the lottery and are through to the last eight. Here’s the quarterfinal field for AFCON.

  3. Freddy Adu heading back to MLS? Reports claims two teams interested

    Jan 29, 2015, 9:45 AM EST

    Fredy Adu made his first start for Bahia in Brazil. Getty Images

    Former D.C. United, RSL and Union player heading back home?

  4. DONE DEAL: Arsenal, West Brom and Villarreal all got new players Wednesday

    Jan 28, 2015, 11:10 PM EST

    arsenal.com arsenal.com

    So what went down on Wednesday, as the transfer window took another step toward slamming shut?

  5. VIDEO: Christian Eriksen scores a free kick for the ages in League Cup semi

    Jan 28, 2015, 10:20 PM EST

    Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    Set up for a free kick outside the 18, Eriksen not only sent an arrow whizzing over the goal, but he managed to spin it into the far upper 90.

  6. Real Madrid will change the name of the Santiago Bernabeu

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:58 PM EST

    Bernabeu Getty Images

    The La Liga giant has woked out a sponsorship deal with United Arab Emirates-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

  7. USMNT postgame reaction: Jozy unsure of 3-5-2, Klinsmann explains changes

    Jan 28, 2015, 9:17 PM EST

    Klinsmann AP

    Jurgen Klinsmann remained upbeat, while Jozy Altidore was obviously disappointed.

  8. Player Ratings: Some good, some not so good in Chile’s 3-2 win over the U.S.

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:42 PM EST

    Chile US Soccer AP

    Breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly from Wednesday’s 3-2 loss in Chile.

  9. 3-5-2 system shows life, but plenty of work is needed

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:15 PM EST

    Yedlin Getty Images

    Jurgen Klinsmann said he played the 3-CB system because he had DeAndre Yedlin available. So did it work?

  10. Chile 3-2 USMNT: Another lead disintegrates for Klinsmann’s crew

    Jan 28, 2015, 8:00 PM EST

    Chile US Soccer AP

    Another match fell apart in a haze of substitutions and mistakes as the United States blew a 2-1 lead in Rancagua on Wednesday night.

  11. WATCH: Yedlin to Diskerud to Altidore, and U.S. goes up 2-1 over Chile

    Jan 28, 2015, 7:03 PM EST

    Honduras v United States Getty Images

    Maybe Sunderland just doesn’t know how to use its forwards.

  12. At the half: Altidore, Shea have USMNT leading Chile 2-1 (video)

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:54 PM EST

    @USSoccer @USSoccer

    It was sloppy at times, with the States very much getting used to the 3-5-2 and both sides using a bevy of second-choice players.

  13. WATCH: Brek Shea opens the scoring for the USMNT in Chile

    Jan 28, 2015, 6:48 PM EST

    Ukraine v USA - International Friendly Getty Images

    Brek Shea’s first USMNT goal in a year and a half was a pretty nice finish.

  14. WATCH: Who throws a shoe (at a ref)? Arda Turan in Atleti’s loss to Barca

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:45 PM EST

    2fc2d5e8ed7f8aa879db8540f8f644b0 Getty Images

    Arda Turan was fouled, losing his shoe in the process. Since the linesman didn’t deem the offense worthy of a foul, Turan had one recourse.

  15. Klinsmann goes 3-5-2 versus Chile; Shea and Yedlin on the wings

    Jan 28, 2015, 5:00 PM EST

    @USSoccer @USSoccer

    Real Salt Lake’s Nick Rimando is between the sticks for the States, and Jermaine Jones continues his time as a center back.

  16. Sheffield United 2-2 Tottenham: Eriksen sees Spurs to All-London final in absolute thriller

    Jan 28, 2015, 4:52 PM EST

    Sheffield United v Tottenham Hotspur - Capital One Cup Semi-Final: Second Leg Getty Images

    After a thriller at Bramall Lane, Chelsea and Spurs will duke it out on March 1 in their shared home city for the League Cup.

  17. Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Lots will be drawn to determine second place in Group D

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:57 PM EST

    FBL-AFR-2015-MATCH23-CMR-CIV Getty Images

    The lots will be drawn at 10am ET on Thursday. Winner gets Ghana on Feb. 1.

  18. U.S. international Sacha Kljestan signs for New York Red Bulls

    Jan 28, 2015, 3:01 PM EST

    Galatasaray AS v RSC Anderlecht - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    Huge trade now makes sense as Kljestan arrives in MLS.

Featured video

Top five Premier League goals: Week 22