Roundup of UEFA Champions League Draws and Two Players Set for Medicals?
The UEFA Champions League is the next best thing in football after the FIFA World Cup and down the years, the biggest of clubs have taken turns in winning European club football’s elite competition. Unfortunately, Arsenal hasn’t joined the prestigious bunch that have won the Big Ear trophy with the club’s only shot at glory arriving in 2006 but Ronaldinho’s FC Barcelona did what we have become used to in recent times – whoop the Gunners.
The draws were made yesterday and there weren’t much surprises, as we saw a repeat of some fixtures yet again. Here’s a quick roundup of the draws.
The Gunners have been handed a relatively favorable group, with their fiercest competition in the group coming from perennial French Ligue 1 champions, Paris St. Germain. The French side have won the French division for two seasons in a row and the French Cup three years on the spin. There would also be a homecoming for Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka when the Gunners take on FC Basel. Arsenal would keep half an eye on Bulgarian outfit, Ludogorets, that shocked Liverpool a couple of seasons ago.
SL Benfica has been one of the most consistent teams in qualifying for the Champions League but they haven’t had much success going to the latter stages of the competition. They’d come up against a SC Napoli side that lost their talismanic striker, Gonzalo Higuain, to Juventus this summer. Dynamo Kyiv and Besiktas complete the group.
FC Barcelona would want to get their hands on the trophy against after suffering the heartbreak of exiting the competition way earlier than expected. They would have two explosive encounters against one of their favorite sons, Pep Guardiola, as he comes to the Nou Camp with his new team, Manchester City. Brendan Rodgers and his Celtic side will have their work cut out for them if they want to advance from the group and there’s also Borussia Monchengladbach to contend with, as it’s expected that they must have invested with the huge sum they received from Arsenal for Xhaka.
FC Bayern under the leadership of one of the competitions recent winners, Carlo Ancelotti, would have some measure of revenge in their eyes when they take on last season’s finalists, Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone has done an amazing job with those lads, getting into two finals in three seasons, only to suffer heartbreak to the same club on both occasions. PSV Eindhoven is another team that has struggled in Europe in recent seasons, and they would probably challenge for a Europa League spot with Russian side, Rostov.
After a couple of campaigns in Europe’s second tier, Tottenham’s strong performances last season, earned them a spot in the Champions League. The Spurs have a rather comfortable group, coming up against Monaco, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and CSKA Moscow.
The defending champions, Real Madrid, will have every other team focused on taking the title away from them, and they can look no further than Borussia Dortmund, that hurt them pretty bad in 2012. Sporting CP and Legia Warsaw complete that group.
After their fairy tale campaign last season, Leicester City, will get a taste of Champions League football as they played host to Club Brugge, FC Porto and FC Copenhagen. I’d say they got a rather soft landing in the competition but we would need to see how consistent they would be.
Juventus will be favorites to be on cruise control in Group H and they would receive opposition from Lyon, Dinamo Zagreb and Sevilla. I trust Sevilla to crash out of the group stages, go into the Europa League and win it again.
Elsewhere, there have been a lot of buzzing at the Emirates with BBC Sport reporting that the Gunners have reached an agreement with Deportivo de la Coruna for the services of forward, Lucas Perez, after activating his release clause. According to the Guardian, all rumors about the club’s interest in Valencia’s Shkodran Mustafi turned out to be through as the defender is set to complete a move to North London.
It is believed that both players would have their medicals in London Colney today but we would be watching the situation closely as it develops.
More on them in the coming days.
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