The Champions League draw was made on Friday and four English sides will be competing in the competition once again. Leicester City are debutants, while Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City will all be returning to the competition. The English clubs haven’t done well in the Champions League in recent years. The last time a Premier League club made it to the final was the 2011/12 season when Chelsea lifted the trophy. Although England’s top flight is considered the best league in the world, the failure in Europe is a disappointment and needs to be put right this season. Here is how the English clubs fared in the draw:
Group A (PSG, Arsenal, Basel and Ludogorets)
Arsenal could have had an easier group, but they should be confident of qualifying for the knockout stages. The new seeding system has made it difficult for Arsenal, as they are no longer top of the pile despite a strong coefficient. This means they are always likely to be drawn in a group with one of the ‘super-clubs’ in Europe.
PSG have ambitions of winning the Champions League and will be favourites to win the group. However, they have lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Blaise Matuidi could also leave. Arsenal have more chance of beating the French champions than Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich. It could have been worse.
The other two sides in the group are teams that Arsenal should beat, but this is Arsenal and they like to make it more difficult than it could be. Basel have a good team which includes Taulant Xhaka. The Xhaka brothers will be facing off again, as they did at Euro 2016. Granit prevailed on that occasion and Arsenal will be hoping that is the case in the Champions League. Arsene Wenger will be happy with the draw and they have the quality to top this group, but a second place finish is more likely.
Group C (Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic)
This is being billed as the toughest of the eight groups and it features Manchester City, who are used to being put in difficult groups. The main difference now is that they have an elite manager at the helm and they will no longer fear the best sides in the world.
He will be taking his City side to the Nou Camp, where he made his name as a player and manager. It is a great test for his new side and it will be interesting to see how they fare in both matches against the Spanish champions.
Borussia Monchengladbach were one of the toughest third seeds and it was unlucky that they were drawn into City’s group. They have a great team and will be the dark horses in Group C. They finished 4th in the Bundesliga last year and thrased Young Boys in the play-off. Guardiola will know them well from his time in Germany and that knowledge could be crucial.
A battle of Britain against Celtic will make headlines, but the Scottish champions will be the whipping boys of this group. It will be tough, but I expect Manchester City to qualify, albeit in second place.
Group E (CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco)
Tottenham have a great chance of qualification as they have been drawn into a group with three evenly matched sides. They avoided one of the big names and will be happy with their draw. Bayer Leverkusen offer the biggest threat, having finished third in the Bundesliga. They have some great players such as Javier Hernandez, Kevin Volland and Hakan Calhanoglu, who will all pose a threat in the final third.
Monaco did well to come through the qualification rounds, beating two good clubs in Fenerbahce and Villarreal. They have an exciting young squad of talented players, who will believe that they can get through this group. The French club are certainly ones to watch this season.
CSKA Moscow are probably the worst of the four sides, despite being top seeds, after losing Ahmed Musa during the summer. It is always difficult traveling to Russia in the Champions League, but Tottenham should have enough to beat CSKA. Mauricio Pochettino will be pleased with the group and they have the quality to win it.
Group G (Leicester City, FC Porto, Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen)
It is still incredible that Leicester City won the Premier League and they have been given an excellent chance of qualifying for the knockout rounds. I don’t think they will find it easy like some on social media, as it will be a new experience for them and the other three clubs all qualified on merit.
FC Porto had to beat AS Roma in the play off and were lucky in that Roma received three red cards across the tie. They aren’t the force they once were, but they still have some great players and have the experience that Leicester lack.
Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen are the other two sides in Group G. The Belgian champions have been improving in recent years and will be tough to beat. They are used to playing in the Europa League and made the quarter finals of the competition in 2015.
Leicester have been given the perfect draw. They have a great chance to qualify and they will visit three great European cities. I have my doubts about their ability to win the group, but I think they will qualify in second, which would be a brilliant result.
Let us know how you think the English sides will fare in the comments below. Also, who could be the eventual winners?
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