A discussion of the most exciting CL Draw in recent times, which clubs to avoid, and live discussion of the groups as they unfold...
Sure, there are no easy teams at this stage. But this time more than before, there some potential minefields to avoid in the bottom two pots... and this could throw up some interesting "Groups of Death".
How CL draw works
The 32 teams are drawn in 4 pots, based on their UEFA rankings (to understand how UEFA Rankings work, click here). Pot 1 has the top 8 teams, Pot 2 has the next 8, and so on. Then 8 groups are drawn by picking one club from each pot, while ensuring that two teams from the same country cannot be drawn together. Yes, its that simple.
Usually, Pot 1 usually contains the giants of European football– most of these are among the favourites to win the competition. This year is no exception, as you can see on the left image. Pot 2 rarely has any easy teams, though it may contain some teams you want to avoid more than others. This year, Italian Champions Milan are that team more than anyone else. No one would want to draw them, as they are stronger than some of the Pot 1 teams this season.
But what makes this season’s draw so exciting is the bottom two Pots. They are likely to throw up some intriguing contests. Lets look at some teams from bottom Pots that you want to avoid in your group:
Clubs to avoid in Pot 3
1. Manchester City
One of the most expensively assembled team of all times, City have finally qualified for the Champions League. Their low ranking meant that they did not make the top 2 pots, but with the strength & steel in their squad, that should be more of a worry to teams in the top 2 pots who draw them. With new arrivals like Aguero & Nasri joining stars like Tevez, Silva, & Yaya, they have the squad better than some of the giants in Pot 1.
2. Zenit St Petersburg
Champions of the fast improving Russian League, Zenit are one of the strongest clubs to come out of Eastern Europe in a long time. Coached by the tactically astute Spalletti, and with talented players like Danny, Bukharov, Semak, Rosina, Criscito & Bruno Alves, Zenit only just missed out on Pot 2. All clubs would like to avoid them, winter away games in Petersburg can be a bit challenging.
Champions of France, with a talent like Edin Hazard & Moussa Sow, coached by the gifted Rudi Garcia probably sums up why you want to avoid Lille in your group. They may have lost some talented players like Gervinho, but have more than enough firepower to be as good as (if not better than) some Pot 2 teams.
Clubs to avoid in Pot 4
The rising stars of Italy, Napoli may have recently lost 5-0 to Barcelona, but anyone making the mistake of assuming that they are like a small team may pay for it. Napoli have been building a squad from youth prodigies over the last few years, and have been the biggest spenders in Italy over this period. Film legend & President De Laurentiis has no intention of selling his stars, and Napoli have kept their group together, while adding to it year on year. With players like Cavani, Lavezzi, Hamsik, & Inler and coached by the shrewd Mazzarri, what they lack in experience at this stage, the Partenopei make up for by sheer technical ability and the intensity of San Paolo.
5. Borussia Dortmund
When the champions of Bundesliga fall into Pot 4, you just know that its going too be an exciting draw. They are a team full of exciting talents, with Gotze, Lucas Barrios, Zidan, Subotic, etc... they may have lost Sahin to Real this summer, but they still can boast of a starting Xi which could trouble any team.
This is going to be an exciting draw in a few hours, and could throw up some exciting “Groups of Death”. Barcelona, Milan, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund anyone?
So who do you want your Club to draw, and who do you want to avoid? For Inter, I would prefer to have Inter, Shaktar, Basel, & Plzen. Worst case scenario would be Inter, Villareal, City, Dortmund. Most of all, I would like to avoid City & Dortmund. What about you?
We are going to be discussing the draw live in the comments section below, do join us.