The draw for the group stage of the 2010-2011 UEFA Champions League was held earlier today at Monaco and it threw up some really delicious ties for Europe’s top club prize. 32 clubs were split into eight groups of four teams, who’ll play each other home and away between September and December to decide which two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round.
Group A: Tottenham, Inter Milan, Werder Bremen, FC Twente
Group B: Benfica, Lyon, Schalke, Hapoel Tel-Aviv
Group C: Manchester United, Rangers, Valencia, Bursaspor
Group D: Barcelona, Rubin Kazan, FC Copenhagen, Panathinakos
Group E: Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, Zilina
Group G: Real Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Partizan Belgrade, Braga
Champions Inter Milan have newcomers Tottenham, Dutch champions FC Twente and Germany’s Werder Bremen alongside them with last year’s runners up Bayern Munich in Group E alongside AS Roma, Basel & CFR Cluj.
Among the other English teams, Arsenal have potentially the easiest group as they’re bunched with Shakhtar Donetsk, Partizan Belgrade and Braga in group H. Premier League champs Chelsea were drawn alongside Marseille, Spartak Moscow and Zilina. Manchester United will face a tricky tie against SPL Champions Rangers with Valencia and Bursaspor the other teams in group C.
As is the case always, there’s the ubiquitous group of death and it is group G, with Real Madrid, Ajax, AC Milan and Auxerre grouped together innit!
The action kicks off on the 14th of September.
At 1700 21:20 IST later today, the European Championships or Euro 2008 will kick-off in far-off Austria/Switzerland as millions of viewers all across the globe will tune into the coverage and watch eight of the top European countries vie for the Henri Delaunay Trophy. England are not in it but the other European powerhouses are, and it should be a fascinating battle! The European Championships are said to be Football’s second biggest prize after the World Cup and given that UEFA boasts of some of the best teams, clubs and players under its aegis, it should be a cracker of a contest!
My personal favourites are the World Cup holders Italy. But with their talismanic captain and defence-lynchpin Fabio Cannavaro out with an ankle injury, they suddenly seem deflated! Spain have been the perennial under-achievers at this stage but maybe they will come good this time around. France, Netherlands, Germany and Portugal also have a decent chance.I’d predict that Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy will be the semi-finalists.
A bit of a dampener information is that ESPN-Star, the telecast providers for India, will not be telecasting the Semi-Finals and Finals . At least that is what I gather from their website! Hope they’re negotiating with the broadcasters and we do get to see the finals on the 29th of June! Yay to that!!!
P.S: Liju beat me to it
The UEFA Champions League got off to an unobtrusive start sometime in the middle of September and I’d missed the entire Matchweek 1. Maybe because this year the telecasts are on Ten Sports instead of on the regular ESPN-Star channels! But I did catch up on the Matchweek 2 that was finished just yesterday. What was interesting was that in both the feature matches that I had watched until halftime (the interval is at 00:30 HRS IST…quite a late hour!), the winner was decided in the second half
On 2nd Oct, Manchester United and Roma were 0-0 at halftime when I’d turned in. These sides had played an 8-goal thriller last year (with United slotting in 7 past a beleaguered Roma) but this time there was to be no repeat of that. Blame it on Roma’s resilience or on Man U’s poor form! The match eventually ended 1-0 in favor of Manchester United – the winner being scored by Wayne Rooney in the 70th minute. Yesterday’s match between Chelsea and Valencia was also tied at 1-1 up until halftime; with David Villa scoring in the 9th minute for Valencia and Joe Cole equalizing for Chelsea in the 20th minute. The winner however was slotted-in by Didier Drogba in the second half.
Other winners of Matchday 2 were Barcelona, Arsenal, Sevilla (on 2nd Oct), Celtic, Marseille & Porto (on 3rd Oct). The shock results were the losses of holders AC Milan and previous holders Liverpool! Milan went down to a 90th minute winner against Celtic whilst Marseille got the better of Liverpool at Anfield. Real Madrid and Lazio played out a 2-2- draw – Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s double score canceled out by Goran Pandev’s double-strike! The third matchweek is on the 23rd & 24th Oct and the teams that are in a spot of bother are Milan and Liverpool – both of them are languishing in 3rd place in their groups.
Catch all the match reports, scorelines, news, views, reviews and more at UEFA Champions League official website