Our CL Group Stage Opponents: Time to Philosophize

Well. The (very awkward) draw is over. After much unscrewing of plastic balls, awkward (which is pretty much a staple on UEFA events) jokes and conversations in-between, we know our opponents for the group stage. The draw was hosted in Monaco, where Puyol* came in like a boss to present the CL trophy and casually answer some questions.

Just another day for El Capita

We are in Group H is for Hlebbed.

FC Barcelona
AC Milan (Italy)
BATE Borisov (Belarus)
Victoria Plzen (Czech Republic)

At the end of it all, we are reunited with the one once known to us on BFB as BANGS (Big-A**-Ninja-Gangsta-Swede). Some trips to Eastern Europe to boot. But it’s do-able.

For posterity the groups look like so:

Group A

Bayern Munich
Manchester City

Group B

CSKA Moscow

Group C

Manchester United
FC Basel
Otelul Galati

Group D

Real Madrid
Dinamo Zagreb

Group E

Bayer Leverkusen

Group F

Borussia Dortmund

Group G

FC Porto
Shakhtar Donetsk
Zenit St. Petersburg
FC Apoel

Group H

FC BATE Borisov
Viktoria Plzen

In picture form:

And we also have a winner for the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe award! Uefa decided it would be a brilliant idea for all three nominees to come on stage at the same time, talk a bit about themselves, while journalist voted live, and then present the award. The winner is… *drum roll*

LEO MESSI! (Oh my goodness, I would have never guessed! …But it was funny seeing the pain on C.Ronaldo’s face as the presenter talks over him to Leo. And that’s after leaning as far away from Xavi as possible. Oh the awkwardness…)

*”I saw all the suits I have.. and I feel best wearing the one with the Barça crest close to my heart – Puyol’s Tweet afterwards. Nice save, Puyi. Nice save. 😆

In other news, the strike is ovah! We play Villarreal on Monday for the first league game of the season at home! (3:00pm EST).

[Image credit: SkySports Twitter, SPORT.es, uefa.com]

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Just your neighbourhood Barca fanatic


  1. blitzen
    August 25, 2011

    Barça Match 1 of the Champions League: Tuesday, September 13th FC Barcelona – AC Milan at Camp Nou.

    Barça Match 2 of the Champions League: Wednesday, September 28th BATE Borisov – FC Barcelona (away).

    Barça Match 3 of the Champions League: Wednesday, October 19th FC Barcelona – Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou.

    Barça Match 4 of the Champions League: Tuesday November 1 Viktoria Plzen – FC Barcelona (away)

    Sept 28th isn’t bad for BATE Borisov game. Cold but not frightful.

    • August 25, 2011

      The voting for the UEFA best player was interesting.

      Messi won easily – but it was Xavi who came in second. Good for him. C.Ronaldo very far behind.

      Voting from uefa.com:

      1 Lionel Messi (ARG) – FC Barcelona (38 votes)
      2 Xavi Hernández (ESP) – FC Barcelona (11 votes)
      3 Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – Real Madrid CF (3 votes)

    • August 25, 2011

      Getting the away game at Bate done in September would be great. Is this official?

      • blitzen
        August 25, 2011

        fcblive was tweeting it, but I don’t know where they got the info.

      • August 25, 2011

        They mentioned at the beginning that the computer draw for the fixtures would take into account winter dates for the colder climate teams anyway. It was probably worked into the draw that we would go to Belarus early.

  2. outerspacedout
    August 25, 2011

    Am I the only one who thinks Milan won’t be that hard? I do think they’re going to win Serie A and without much difficulty, and it’s not me overestimating Barcelona, but I just see their side as the kind of side we would be able to pick apart. They aren’t particularly fast or cohesive or fit or dominating or physical, and at least from what I see there is quite a considerable gap technically as well as physically. There are many teams who might not be as good as Milan but who I still think would cause us much more trouble.

    • Mila
      August 25, 2011

      I’m with you on this one – Seria A is not what it used to be, plus Milan is mostly meh these days… Still, the papers will be harping on BANGS revenge etc etc etc till it will get all kinds of ridiculous.

    • blitzen
      August 25, 2011

      I’m not expecting much trouble from them, either. They may have won Serie A last year, but they were quite dreadful against RM, Tottenham, and even Ajax last year.

      • Mila
        August 25, 2011

        Yep, their games against the Spurs in particular were disappointing and unless they are seriously improved and have tones of new YOUNG blood, I don’t see how the likes of Seedorf and Pipo are going to be much of a threat.

        Typing this now – of course either Pipo or Seedorf will score 🙂

        • blitzen
          August 25, 2011

          Seedorf is still actually playing? I love the guy, but how old must be be?


          He is 35. OK, not ancient exactly, but still.

          • Mila
            August 25, 2011

            He is getting on just a bit, he is class, but at this stage age often times beats class… Giggs is perhaps the only exception. He seams ageless.

          • outerspacedout
            August 25, 2011

            Feels like he’s been around for EVER though, doesn’t it?

        • outerspacedout
          August 25, 2011

          Admittedly they played against Spurs without the likes of Van Bommel and even Cassano who they got in the winter and were important in them winning the league, especially Van Bommel. But still they’re a side that seemed to me more like won the league by having a very good central defense and enough good attackers to outscore teams, instead of actually being very good. And unlike in Serie A, even two great centre-backs won’t keep everything out when the full-backs (and various other positions, whether because of quality players too old to play high intensity or players that just aren’t top quality) are distinctly average, against Barca or other strong European sides.

  3. August 25, 2011

    Milan-Barça: Wed Nov 23.
    Barça-BATE Tue Dec 6

    Luckily, our December match up is just receiving BATE at home. With the Clasico and the Club World Cup, it’s good that it won’t get too congested.

  4. Gogah
    August 25, 2011

    very awkward indeed. the bald guy’s jokes were excruciating.
    God, group A is so killer i want all teams to go through.
    i feel bad for city and napoli. they deserved better draws.
    really hope though that City and Villarreal go through.

  5. August 25, 2011

    I bet Mancini is on the phone right now yelling at his board about how he doesn’t have enough players to compete in Europe as well as in the league.

    • August 25, 2011

      I bet he’s yelling for the board to pay 50m to switch groups with United.

  6. ElJefe
    August 25, 2011

    I like this draw. One really solid opponent which will wake us up and sure we’re playing at CL match speed, but not a loaded group like a few years past.

    Sucks to be City. Too bad Real has an easy path to the next round.

    Chelsea exits early?

    • blitzen
      August 25, 2011

      I would love for Valencia to keep Chelsea out of the next round!

      Except for Mata. That would kind of suck for him.

  7. Eklavya
    August 25, 2011

    So who’s going to be Copenhagen (better than Kazan, right?) of 2011?

  8. August 25, 2011

    Would’ve preferred a more entertaining group, but well…If I can make it to the match in Czech it will be all good. A country I like and a match I doubt will bring any upset.

    The match against the Hlebbing club in September is annoying but at least it is not December.

    Obviously the most important match is the first against Milan at home. Its the match we cant afford not winning. I think the presence of Ibra will bring a Mourinhoic motivation to our players to beat the Italians.

    Was hoping a Spanish team against Arsenal. No well…

    • Helge
      August 25, 2011

      During the CL qualification, when Plzen looked already likely to win the two-legged affair, the German commentator said: “Keep Plzen in mind, I advice you to visit their stadium if your team plays there, there’s a brewery right next to the stadium. Take a tour and enjoy your stay!” 🙂

      Well, if you don’t like beer, forget about it. But if you do, why not combine the two things?

  9. outerspacedout
    August 25, 2011

    Just such an awful pity about Group A. Bayern have a really good team- in my opinion the strongest after us, RM and United, along with Chelsea- and the final is at the Allianz Arena so they’ll be extra motivated, and I wanted to see them go far cos they’re good. City have a really quality squad and seem to be starting to play more cohesively and with more attacking style, so they’re probably also favorites to qualify, and I wanted them to make the knockout rounds just to see the Chelsea/Arsenal fans who hate us so much get all pratty and also cos they have Silva, Yaya, Aguero and such fun players. I like Villareal a lot, and Napoli are my favorite side lately from Italy but seem set to be whipping boys in the group. All four sides I wanted to make the knockouts, it’s just a terrible pity two of them have to be out. Well let me hope that Napoli finishes fourth, at least, so that maybe with CL and Europa League both out they can focus on the league and hopefully make a title tilt. From the other three ah let whatever happens happen.

    Barcelona and Valencia have decent draws, though, which is good.

  10. mom4
    August 25, 2011

    In the last round all I kept thinking was anybody but Dortmund. So I can’t complain.

    So awkward with the three finalists on stage together. Who was the rocket scientist who thought that one up?

    Now I gotta go salvage our travel plans that the LFP screwed up for us. We were supposed to go to Barca v. Malaga in January and now it’s the week one make-up away game 🙁 How to you say royally screwed in Spanish? 🙁

    • August 25, 2011

      Advance planning with the jackasses that run La Liga is never a good thing. Hope you can work something out. Do you have the tickets already?

      • mom4
        August 25, 2011

        Nope- but we were going to be doing the Sevilla/Cordoba/Granada thing(and go to Sevilla v Espanyol) the first week and Barcelona the second. So now we have to have the travel agent swap weeks and pay whatever penalties we incure from swapping out non-refundable flights. The only Barca home game is on (approx) the 14th now v. Real Betis. I don’t mind seeing R. Betis but would have loved the Malaga game (and the chance to root against the Pericos in Sevilla) Grrrrr!

        Who was it that said, “La Liga, played by geniuses, run by idiots?”

          • mom4
            August 25, 2011

            That’s our last resort. We’re scheduled to be in Barcelona then, the flight to and from would be expensive. Besides, half the fun would be being at Camp Nou.

        • Eklavya
          August 25, 2011

          we were going to be doing the Sevilla/Cordoba/ Granada thing

          Hey, its what I did last January! We did Malaga, then Sevilla, then the Cordoba+Granada (w/Alhambra) and Ronda was there too. It was fun! There werent any matches although we did see the Sevilla Stadium.

      • Nav
        August 25, 2011

        I got stupidly fortunate — the Villareal game is back on and I’m going to that.

        • The__K__Man
          August 25, 2011

          me too..really excited the game is back on!

    • Dani_el
      August 25, 2011

      That link is from the most well-known newspaper in Peru!

  11. Eduard
    August 25, 2011

    I just want to say that we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, these teams made it to the group stages of the Champions league and merrit some respect. Specially the smaller teams where we seem to have the most difficulties. I’m going to enjoy AC Milan the most, not b/c of Bangs though, but because of Sachi’s Milan and the history of both of our clubs. This article(which yes comes from Goal but I enjoyed it)http://www.goal.com/en/news/1717/editorial/2011/08/16/2617774/with-the-signing-of-arsenals-cesc-fabregas-barcelona-could-begin

  12. Eklavya
    August 25, 2011

    Roma and Sevills out of the Europe League. Ouch. Lucho probably feeling the heat.

  13. Helge
    August 25, 2011

    Looks like la Liga is turning into a second Scottish PL.
    Villarreal, Valencia and Seville have all lost quite some quality (Atleti arguably not, but they are Pathetico anyway), only Malaga might be a serious title contender in the future…
    if this continues, Barca and Real will soon not have any ‘tough’ games left, except el Clasico.
    I’m really concerned about this development (combined with strikes, rising debts of all but 3 la Liga clubs etc.).
    The future for Barca might look bright, but for Spanish club football in general, it’s pretty dark.

    • mei
      August 25, 2011

      I dont get this Helge.

      Realistically speaking , there are only two teams that challenge for the title in each major league.

      Each major league also has major debt issues.
      Except for Bundesliga , perhaps.
      The situation in Spain is overexposed because of the financial issues of the country itself and some implications with its laws, and because of the inability of the people in charge to manage and distribute well enough a great product.

      Anyway, I dont really care for the level of competition per se, if the product displayed is not worth the viewing.

      I will take Sevilla , Villareal , Valencia , Athletic Bilbao hell even Athletico Madrid (who have reinforced majorly) over any of the other not so “serious” title challengers in other leagues.

      Over some genuine title challengers too now that i can think it thoroughly.

    • August 25, 2011

      TV rights. Changing the current trend of competitiveness in La Liga begins (but doesn’t end) at negotiating jointly for TV rights and redistributing it across the teams in the league. RM and Barca already have a massive advantage over the rest of La Liga in sponsors, name-recognition, Champions League money and merchandise sales. Now take into account that each is bringing in 140M euros a year in TV rights (next highest in the sport is Manchester United, which brings in ~60M euro) and you can see where the disparity becomes enormous.

      All the clubs agree to TV money redistribution in principle. How it’s supposed to be redistributed is another matter entirely.

  14. August 25, 2011

    In thinking about this, we could have predicted Milan. We seen to have a knack for drawing teams that we have some connection with. Now that Eto’o has left Inter, it’s Ibrahimovic time. I suspect that Arsenal is also in our future, for obvious reasons.

  15. ciaran
    August 25, 2011

    Poor Bojan missed a sitter at the end but I believe it wouldn’t have made much of a difference due to the away goals rule.

  16. August 25, 2011

    OT: does anyone have the gif showing our backline and midfield during a match, in which they are all stepping backwards and then skipping back in almost perfect synchrony?

  17. Diego
    August 25, 2011

    Armenia, San Marino, and Portugal voted for Cristiano.

  18. Diego
    August 25, 2011

    Lionel Messi’s 2nd goal in the Champions League semifinals in Madrid was named best goal of the Champions League by UEFA #fcblive [sport]

  19. Diego
    August 25, 2011

    Roma and Sevilla crash out.

    As long as Busq plays, I’m happy with Abi-Masch at CB.

    For People who are worried about lack of CBs, EE have Pepe,Carvalho,Albiol,Ramos,Varane. 3 Very Good, 1 Good, 1 Young inexperienced. We have Puyol,Pique,Masch,Abi,Fontas. I think we both have the same situation. Although I trust our backline much more.

  20. Calvin
    August 25, 2011

    Poor Lucho out of Europe. It’s going to take him longer to stamp his authority on that squad than people think.

    Speaking of Europe, the UEFA Super Cup preview is posted.

    • Anonymous_69
      August 25, 2011

      90% of Roma fans have already turned against Luis Enrique. They pretty much despise his attempt to play attacking football, and they are going berserk because isn’t “respecting” Totti enough.

      First of all, Roma fans need to be very patient. Even if everything goes to plan, the football won’t be very fun until at least February-March. But if Lucho succeeds, it will all be worth it in the end.

      Second of all, no manager is going to be able to make Roma fans happy unless they accept that Totti is a player, he does not have more authority than the manager. It doesn’t matter if Totti has been here 20 years, and the manager was only appointed yesterday. Totti obeys the coach. End of story. If Lucho doesn’t believe Totti fits into his plans, then he should be able to take him off without losing peoples’ trust. With Osvaldo, I believe the Roma attack will be Bojan-Osvaldo-Lamela (or Lamela in the hole behind them). Maybe that means Totti drops to midfield, or maybe that means Totti drops to the bench. Either way, deal with it.

      • Anonymous_69
        August 25, 2011

        They pretty much despise his attempt to play *tiki taka* football

      • August 26, 2011

        Just saw some Roma blogs talk about Lucho Enrique following their failure to make the Europa League group stage… Jeheesus Christ.

        Then I saw some Milan blogs discussing their getting drawn with Barcelona in the Champions League group stage… Mother of God.

        I thought the Inter blogs were bad enough the last two years. What the hell is up with Serie A blogs? Is there a fanbase with a more unrealistic sense of entitlement? Serie A is slipping in league rankings for a reason, folks.

      • blitzen
        August 26, 2011

        Thanks very much for your perspective! I don’t follow Serie A, but am very much an admirer of Lucho, so I want him to do well at Roma. I hope he sticks to his guns and has the backing of the owners.

  21. BarcaGirl_Indo
    August 25, 2011

    since I love both teams (Barcelona and Milan), my only wish is the match won’t end ugly (like against Arsenal, Chelsea, Inter, and EE). just a football match.
    no stupid dramas, accusations, brawls, dirty tackles, or injuries.

    both will qualify to the next round, I believe that. It’s just a matter of who takes the 1st place.

  22. Neel
    August 25, 2011

    Does any one have the translated Puyol question answer session as mentioned in this article?

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