How will the Premier League teams fare in this season's Champions League?
The draw for Europe’s elite competition was hosted on Thursday, with Real Madrid entering the tournament as reigning champions, having beaten rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in Lisbon last May.
Real have made some changes to the squad that won the clubs tenth European cup with players both coming in and going out.
World Cup star James Rodriguez was brought in, as was world cup winner Toni Kroos. Levante’s Keylor Navas was also acquired.
Angel Di Maria left for England, heading to Manchester United, while former Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso moved to last years champions league semi finalists Bayern Munich.
This article, however, is looking at how the Premier league sides will manage in their drawn groups.
Jose Mourinho’s side were drawn with German outfit FC Schalke, Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon and the relatively unknown Maribor.
Chelsea fans will be very optimistic of getting out of their group and will be clear favourites to win it. Schalke may prove to be the toughest fixture for Mourinho’s men but Sporting Lisbon and Maribor should be no match for last year’s semi finalists.
Star player – New signing Cesc Fabregas has never won the champions league but has experience in the competition, reaching two semi final’s with former club Barcelona. The Spaniard will be determined to go a step further and finally win the trophy that has so far eluded him.
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side make their return to the Champions League for the first time since 2009 and, after spending over £100 million in the summer, will look to make an impact in Europe.
The Reds were drawn in the same group as ten time champions Real Madrid, Swiss side Basel and Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets. Madrid will be favourites to top the group, but Liverpool will be more than confident they can claim second and progress to the next round.
Star player – Mario Balotelli will be Liverpool’s go to guy for goals in the Champions league this season, given that Sturridge and Lambert have little if any experience at this level and the Italian maverick won this trophy with Inter Milan in 2010 under Jose Mourinho.
Manuel Pellegrini’s emphasis may be on winning this years Champions league with City’s rich owners said to be frustrated at the club’s lack of European success. The Chilean manager has not made as many signings as rival clubs this summer, but he has brought in Fernando and Elaquim Mangala, both of FC Porto.
The Premier League champions were drawn into a group that consists of Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, Russian outfit CSKA Moscow and Italian side Roma. Bayern and City will undoubtedly be favourites to get out of the group, but with both sides evenly matched, either one could come out on top.
Star player – Yaya Toure is City’s Mr. Reliable and his side will need him if they are to do well in this year’s tournament. The Ivorian midfielder will need to drive his team forward by scoring and creating goals for Pellegrini’s men, in order to achieve their lofty ambitions of becoming European champions.
Arsene Wenger will be hit hard by the absence of striker Olivier Giroud and will need to bring a replacement in shortly to get them out of their tricky group containing Galatasaray, Borussia Dortmund and Anderlecht.
The Gunners were in the same group as Dortmund last year and finished second. Progressing to the next round will of course be top priority, but finishing first and avoiding other group winners would boost their chances massively.
Star player – Alexis Sanchez is a Champions league proven player and with Giroud injured, Arsenal will turn to the Chilean international to score more goals like his winner in the play off round against Besiktas. The former Barcelona man can play out wide, as the main striker and in behind the striker giving Wenger plenty of options.