UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The team has the day off today, and good thing too! Not only are they recovering from the kicking they took during yesterday’s Supercopa game (and possibly from the celebrations afterwards), but something extremely important is happening today that will demand their full attention, and ours!

Yes, that’s right. It’s time for the UEFA Champion’s League Group Stage Draw! So exciting! I’m all a-tingle! Today is the day we find out who our opponents will be in the group stage matches over the next several months. Will we avoid the Russians? Will we play AC Milan for the billionth time in a row? Will we have a journey to KlippKloppLand?

There is also the small matter of finding out who will be the recipient of the Giant Silver Torso Award, otherwise known as the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award. Will it be perennial favourite Lionel Messi or always-a-bridesmaid Cristiano Ronaldo? The smart money this year is on cheeky newcomer Frank Ribery. What do you think?

Here are the groups:

Group One:
Bayern Munich (GER)
FC Barcelona (ESP)
Chelsea (ENG)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Manchester United (ENG)
Arsenal (ENG)
Porto (POR)
Benfica (POR)

Group Two:
Atletico Madrid (ESP)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
AC Milan (ITA)
Schalke (GER)
Marseille (FRA)
CSKA Moskva (RUS)
Juventus (ITA)

Group Three:
Zenit (RUS)
Manchester City (ENG)
Ajax (NED)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Basel (SUI)
Olympiakos (GRE)
Galatasaray (TUR)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER)

Group Four:
Copenhagen (DEN)
Napoli (ITA)
Anderlecht (BEL)
Celtic (SCO)
Steaua (ROM)
Plzen (CZE)
Real Sociedad (ESP)
Austria Wien (AUT)

It’s all happening at 17:45 CET, details to be found here: UEFA.com.

By blitzen

Canadian, cule, corporate wage slave. Came late to the beautiful game, but fell under FCB's spell in 2006 and never looked back.


  1. hi ~

    this is the only place i have to share my waking dream of this morning with the knowledge that it will be understood.

    in the dream, i turned on the tv and the bein sport channel worked!
    miracle of miracles! a match was on, with no sputtery streaming, just clear HD picture. it was better than christmas.

    alas, i woke up, and although in our new time warner cable lineup, still not available. ugh. i have tried to call them 6 times now to get it sorted. one hour-long call verified that it’s included in the package we have, but “maybe it’s not available in your area” – but no clue how to find out. since then, only holding interminably or being hung up on because the system thought prompts were ignored, when they weren’t given.

    now my longing for the match today is even worse than usual.

    exciting that some people who have TWC will now have BeIn.
    i’m considering starting a campaign to have people call in and request it, but i don’t know many people here.

    so much anticipation.

    enjoy your match day, folks. take care.

    1. The people at Google (ChromeCast) and Apple (AppleTV) have sort of come to your rescue. They both make add-on dongles that will throw a stream to your big TV. Of course, you have to actually be able to FIND a high-quality stream to throw to the TV, but that’s another question.

      I hear you on the longing. Comcast still hasn’t decided that BeIN is worth doing in HD. Probably never will, unless the viewership is sufficiently high to demand the change, which I don’t see happening.

    2. At the moment, I believe Chromecast only does YouTube and a few other streaming sites. I know they’re planning to expand, and there might be some workaround,, but I could be wrong on both counts. Has anyone tried it? I’d like to watch the few Deportes games on the big TV. Haven’t tried Apple TV.

  2. I remember Euler tweeting months ago that we should sign Isco, regardless of whether we have space for him in the team or not; that his kind of talent was too good to pass up.

    1. That’s interesting. I’m not sure I agree with it, though. We couldn’t find enough minutes to keep Thiago Alcantara happy. We have Deulofeu on loan, as well as Rafinha, not to mention the attacking talent that we already have in house. That’s a lot of money to spend on a player, who is admittedly brilliant, just to have and try to figure out some way to integrate.

      I do worry that he will bite us in the butt this season, but we’ll just have to see about that.

    2. Yeah, he’s their top scorer and most influential player by a distance I believe. Anyhow, he plays the same position Rafinha does, right? (And Rafinha’s supposed to be better than Thiago) It’ll be interesting to see how they each fare this season.

    3. I would’ve signed Isco no matter what. He’s too good to pass. We could make space for him ala Cesc. And who knows, if Isco did come, maybe we could’ve recovered the money from the sale of Cesc to Man United.

      Ozil is another player I would’ve signed a few seasons ago.

      ps. Ozil, Isco and Illaramendi were both offered to us in the past with the last 2 being last season.

    4. What separate us from EE is we have our own philosophy to follow, And it’s been adding silver ware to our trophy case for the last 25 years, EE only model for more than a decade was the same thing you wanted, ‘He’s just to good to pass, Let’s buy him anyway’, But how many trophies did this type thinking delivered for them?
      We haven’t reached the status we’re in now by watching what EE do, But it’s exactly what they’ve been doing, Look at their insane spending spree in 2009, After we won the treble, Cristiano, Kaka, Benzema, Albiol, And many others which all add up to 260 million euros worth of transfers, But they didn’t buy all of them with a clear model or philosophy in mind, They simply did it, Because of our success, But since then how many trohies they won compared to ours?
      I won’t be a hypocrite and deny that i don’t feel envious when i watch isco doing what he does for them, But i have trust in our model and our philosophy, It may fail us in some years, But in the long run, It’ll always triumph.

    5. Hear hear! And here’s hoping even Ancelotti cannot fix their philosophy or lead them to trophies 😀

  3. ¡Alineación confirmada!

    Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba, Sergio, Cesc, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi y Neymar

  4. It’s done. Bale to RM for 100 million euros.
    That’s just fucking insane.
    That’s probably the biggest travesty in the history of football.

  5. What a cheeky pass from Messi to Jr. Cesc’s pass was a bit heavy for Messi, but did anyone doubt he’d get there? Not I!

  6. God he’s the best ever. That final pace to beat his man and the coolness to slot the opposite corner of the net. All set up by Busi being Busi.

  7. VV saves us again. We look so fragile at the back whenever we concede a tiny bit of possession

    1. Alba should not be starting. He’s primarily responsible 4 every thing wrong w/our back line

  8. It reminds me on the game against Deportivo last year.
    We let them into the game, don’t know why. On both accounts after our fullbacks couldn’t clear up the mess, Dani on the first goal with his stupid back pass to Valdes, and Alba with his “i want to hit the ball with my head in order to clear the situation”.

  9. why was Iniesta marking the most dangerous goalscorer on their team, on a corner. that makes zero sense. 2 goals in 4 minutes means our mentality is weak still, despite the excellence of both strikes. are we expecting Leo to bail us out of every situation again this season?

    1. He wasnt. It was Dani who failed to go with his man. However, it throws up the interesting thought of are we playing zonal or man making? If man marking why was Pique just given an area? He’s our only decent header of a ball.

    2. Have to say they were two great strikes. Just goes to show. I was starting to wonder whether Tata would be brave enough to take off Messi with a three goal lead. I suppose this is the answer as to why coaches don’t.

    3. Take him off at half it we still had 3-0 lead? I could see the 65-70 min, but not half. However, as you point out, it’s never safe. Oh no. We don’t need another CB or 2 and a Abi replacement on the left. We’re fine.

  10. I have to say, without Xavi in the midfield we’ve been so much quicker at getting the ball up the field than in the previous 3 games.

  11. Jr! What kind of stupid shit is that? Y get a stupid yellow 4 your 3rd game running. He’s gonna be suspended by the 7th game at this rate.

  12. This should not have been that close, but it’s still 3 points.

    Also, I think any notion that the combination of Neymar and Messi can’t work should be put to rest for now – Messi could have had 6 goals this game is he was finishing at his usual efficiency, and 3 or 4 of them would have come directly after combinations with Neymar.

    1. The third goal Messi scored from Neymar’s assist showed how great their combo can be. For once the three defenders on the left were all looking to Neymar, afraid of his shot when Messi cut his run inside. Against Pedro one of them would have stayed back a bit looking out for Messi’s run more than the threat of the shot. Having two guys generate that kind of attention can only be good.

    2. Just look at it as a hard fought win, a win in a ground where we usually don’t do well. We won away to Malaga and to Valencia, and the season just started.
      It’s a good sign.
      The height is a problem, yes, but not so much as awareness.

    3. I was even more impressed by the backheel exchange in the second half that lead to Messi narrowly missing from close range. Two defenders collapsed on Neymar, but he eliminated them with that trick which put Messi and whoever was on the left that eventually gave him back the ball in a lot of space.

      We had plenty of clear cut chances in the second half to bury the game, it’s just that we didn’t convert. It’s always difficult to play at the Mestalla, so nobody should be surprised we did not win 5-0. That we had so many chances is very positive though

  13. Jesus. How are u going 2 let them get a head on that at the end. We r lucky 2 take all 3 points in this one. Clear cut chances we buried. VV was huge. Makings 3 spectacular saves. 20 fouls to our 11. We had 3 Yellows they had 2! C’mon. One of our yellows was Jr being stupid and another was Dani’s 1st real bad tackle and on replace it looked like a phantom tackle.

  14. Great win at a difficult ground. Iniesta was terrific. However, height will, sooner or later, kill us.

    1. I suffered too … we should have sealed the deal in the first half. Can anybody explain what happend after minute 40? Somehow we lost the defensive focus and never recovered it. Collective pressing, fast triangles and game control could have been way better.

      Important 3 points!

    2. The possibility of losing points after putting that kind of first half, Would’ve been too much to bear.

  15. By the way, that header from Pedro just confirms that he lacked the balls to nail it.
    He was so much afraid not to be hurt, that he forgot how to hit the ball. Pathetic.

    1. What it means is that he tried to cut it too fine when he didn’t have to, and screwed up. It happens. Look at the finishes Messi left on the table.

    2. Just look at his face before he hit it. His first reaction was…OMG…i will clash with him.
      Someone with enough balls would just have head it as it should, straight, with no cutting.
      And im not disputing the wasted chance, im questioning his courage in these situations.

    3. Slow motion replays of headers can be very misleading – even some of the most confident ones look like the player is scared

    4. I don’t know if you actually play football, but the angle of that pass with relation to his body would need RIDICULOUS timing and technique to turn it towards goal.

      So I don’t think the issue was that he was afraid…

    5. pedro was scared. simple as that. he had a free header from a beautiful cross by iniesta. pedro’s face says it all. i dont know what is up with pedro but he has really been testing my patience. tello wouldve been a better option.

    6. Pedro’s form has been off. But I just don’t think it’s valid to say that he didn’t score that header because he was afraid. He just pushed it wide. It happens.

  16. Some thoughts:

    — We saw the effects of the horrid preseason in the second half. Team isn’t in shape yet, still went into a very difficult ground and got full points.

    — Neymar worked his ass off today at both ends of the pitch. Made some magic, had some “What the …” moments. Both are to be expected. But the future is bright.

    — Messi has to pass him the ball. On more than one occasion, Neymar was ignored, as was Pedro. I don’t consider that a good trend. I know I hate Messi, and people will say that a player with that kind of ego thinks he is the best option and forgive him, blablablabla. I can’t. When you have the second most destabilizing player on the pitch making a run up the left wing, wide open, you give him the ball and continue your run. Instead he held it, held it, until it was too late. Not cool.

    — Alba continues to be an exploitable liability for opponents.

    — Pedro …. sighhhhh. He has gone from exclamation point to period to comma to question mark.

    — Iniesta was an excellent Xavi until he, like everyone else, got tired.

    — Yes, that was real life, Jonathan Dos Santos coming in for Cesc Fabregas, in case some of you were wondering.

    1. JDS instead of Song. How about them apples? I thought JDS acquitted himself rather well and both surprised and happy that Tata had faith in him.

    2. agree on Point 1,2,4,5,6.

      Point 3: Messi not passing to Junior

      Junior scored a goal(ruled incorrectly Offside)by his lovely Through.On the second goal he could have passed to Junior(who was all alone),but he buried it with aplomb.Other than that I think he played it to his judgement and I would like to give the benefit of doubt to a player who has been averaging 50+ goals in the last 4 seasons.On that note isn’t it too early to make these comments?its not like its a trend or is it?

      Point 7: JDS

      Dont know about you guys he is the closest player to resemble Xavi,at his age Xavi was not Xavi and given proper chance i lie to see his evolution.the time he spent on the pitch he looked assured and rolled the play quit nicely.

      What bout TATA,what balls?Omitting Xavi,Alexis and Replacing Cesc,Junior with JDS,Roberto.Woof.This Season’s Barca if healthy will gonna be Fun to watch.

      Alba-What can i say,the other team clearly considers him the weakest spot on the back line.he is piss poor defensively.

      On the first goal may be Masche put the crossing player onside,though i dare say he is our best CB right now

  17. And yes, i used to play football, so i understood the situation, and i stand by my first impression.

  18. 04/02/2013 Valencia vs Barcelona 1 – 1
    02/02/2012 Valencia vs Barcelona 1 – 1
    22/09/2011 Valencia vs Barcelona 2 – 2
    18/10/2009 Valencia vs Barcelona 0 – 1
    21/03/2008 Valencia vs Barcelona 3 – 2


    1. I’m was more worried about Smasch. That was a nasty collision. We can’t afford to lose him. We can replace Busi with Song if we have to.

  19. Three points: Thank you very very much. Difficult place to get the full points.

    Clean sheets: Are overrated. Who needs them?

    I’m off to do my laundry now 😉

  20. very exciting game. la liga is very well ALIVE. the last atletico match and this one have demanded a lot from our players and even if we are a little bit off form we came through with wins. im very proud of our team at this moment.
    -valdes has been on fire btw
    -cant say the same for pedrito?

  21. Martino: This was the most exciting match? Exciting matches happen when the two side want to play football, Not just one of them.

    Ouch!!……..Shouts semione.

    1. Is this the same Ozil Sky are saying is on his way to Arsenal ??? 🙂

      In the interests of fairness I thought Alba had a pretty decent second half whereas Dani was poor the whole match.

      Not sure the tiredness was entirely physical or due to preseason. I think the mental fatigue of having to hold on and being unable to finish them off also took its toll on us while it gave them renewed energy.

    2. I can’t believe EE are considering selling Ozil and have brought in Bale at an enormous price. I’ve always thought both Ozil and di Maria are better players than Bale. Only time will tell, of course. It looks a lot like when they let Makelele go and brought in Beckham. Changes for the wrong reason — marketing & imaging reasons and not footballing reasons. Spanish FC Hollywood.

    3. They’ll survive. Isco creates chances and has ability to finish them off too. On other note, I hope ozil to arsenal happens, I’ll be able to applaud his slick footwork finally.

  22. So does La Liga have any concussion policy? Masch did not look ok after that collision. While it might be a cliché to say we need another cenerback… frustrating.

    Valdes and Neymar immense, Cesc pretty great too. Not as down on Alba as some. That pace can make up for a lot. Would have liked to see Montoya 2nd half for Dani. Pedro… 🙁

  23. Does anybody know why there is a bat on Valencia’s crest? I thought Batman lives in Gotham. Are there a lot of bats there or is it home to Spanish Batman? Anybody?

    1. According to wiki:
      “There are several possible explanations for the bat; one is that bats are simply quite common in the area. The second theory is that on 9 October 1238, when James I was about to enter the city, re-conquering it from the Moors, one bat landed on the top of his flag, and he interpreted it as a good sign. As he conquered the city, the bat was added to the arms.”

      Well, that was a rather predictable and disappointing explanation.

      I was hoping for something akin to Bram Stoker, blood sucking, Transylvania’s sister region, etc. 🙁

    2. Bruce Wayne once bankrolled the team. The players didnt like that they all had to dress up looking like Robin.

    3. And I was hoping for a story about spending their lives fighting crime because their parents were murdered by a mugger in an alley :p

  24. Couple of points from Whoscored that have been alluded to already, but here’s the statistical proof:

    A whopping 44% of Valencia’s attack came down Jordi Alba’s side. As most of you have noticed, teams have identified his flank as the best way to attack Barcelona. They attacked down the middle and left much less, 28% each. Barcelona’s own attack was much more evenly spread out; 36% on the left, 34% in the middle and 30% on the right.

    Neymar had only two shots on goal in the game, and just one dribble. He was fouled 6 times, way more than any other Barca player. Messi was only fouled once in comparison. Clearly his role in this match was to facilitate Messi’s scoring and create space for him, but I’d like to see him go for goal more. Hopefully he won’t just end up passing the ball to Messi every single time, like all our other forwards (cept Tello)

    1. Yes you got it! Haha.

      I’m fine with it, just thought it’s weird considering that they conceded 2 goals yet no weakness.

  25. As end of shirt sponsor deal coincides with elections in 2016, could be extended for 1+ years so new board doesn’t start without deal. [md]

    How thoughtful of Rosell. I gotta give him credit for that.

  26. sid lowe doesnt seem to rate alexis that much. He also feels xavi is down the hill. Canny statement by him.
    “There was a directness, a cutting edge to them that it is tempting to say was benefited by the absence of Xavi and Alexis, and glimpses that Messi and Neymar will combine well”.

    I just hope alexis proves everybody wrong. He has to increase his scoring rate and improve his finishing skills.

  27. We are unlikely to sign anyone today and I think that is a bit short sighted. I don’t feel our squad is big enough or good enough to challenge on 3 trophy fronts this season – especially in defence. Hope I’m proved wrong though.

  28. Hi guys, long-time lurker here. Totally unrelated to the thread- but my family is thinking of heading up to Spain for a holiday, and I have very sneakily encouraged them to be in Barcelona on the 15th of December so that I can fulfill my lifelong dream of watching Barca at the Nou Camp!

    I think that match in question is Barca vs Villareal actually. Perhaps I can get them to fly in early enough to catch the Champions League match against Celtic as well 😀 I just have a few questions for the local cules; what’s the best way to get tickets for a Barca match, and what section/seats should I aim for? Is it still possible to get tickets for the match now, or will I have to turn to ticket scalpers? And lastly, I’ve also heard that the La Liga board is quite incompetent when it comes to scheduling, is there a good chance that the match will be pushed forward or delayed, and how do I keep abreast of any schedule changes?

    Thank you very much in advance, and cheers.

    1. Tickets are up for sale on the official site already. More will be available a few days before the game. You can get those safely at a kiosk on La Rambla. Very easy to find. There are no bad seats at the CN. Even the nosebleed seats have the advantage of really giving you a great vantage point for seeing the plays develop and all the off the ball movement (TV does all that a big injustice).

      Keep your weekend flexible as the RFEF doesn’t do travelers (nor anyone else for that matter) the courtesy of announcing the real game time/day until about two weeks before each game. The CN is conveniently located at several Metro stops…the Metro is really the way to go anywhere in the city (get a T10 card)

      Prepare to be blown away by the experience. Enjoy!

    2. Thank you for the extremely helpful advice mom4! Tickets booked and counting the days now 🙂

  29. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgEpIPXepac

    Look at this video, and watch Pedro. Astounding, and he should have gotten the pass back from Messi. He worked like a dog to help win back a ball that Messi lost (Messi just trots along, figuring others will rectify the error), makes the steal, then hauls ass back down to the other end to be in perfect position for the return pass.

    You can almost see him about to throw up his arms as in “Dude! I was open!” Then he thought better of it, but for this viewer (I know, I know …. I hate Messi) his disappointment was evident.

    Here is another one, featuring Sanchez, also by Allas (who does do wonderful work):


    You do have to wonder if Sanchez and Pedro aren’t just TIRED by the time they get into finishing position.

    1. Kevin, you said on Twitter:
      “Devil’s advocate: Pedro was playing the same way when he was scoring bags of goals, tracking back like a fiend.”

      I think this little video might amuse you:

      As I said he has been playing like this for 5-6 years now there’s no doubt it’s really exhausting and probably that’s why he has lost his finishing touch. Also that Messi doesn’t look for him like he did couple of years ago, I’m not saying he ignores him, but he prefers other options quite often.

      Also Pedro was the most loved player by the Barca crowd back then. I miss those days they always chanted PPEEEDRROOO PEEDROOOO PPEEDDRROOOOO

    2. Maybe the other players should unprogram the “find Messi first” from their heads, and then Messi learns that he does not have to finish all by himself.

      I hope the unprogramming will be easier with Neymar now.

    3. In the first one, Pedro is behind Messi’s point of view. Messi has the net in his sights and takes the shot, a very poor shot, but one that even Perdo would have taken. A different example would have worked better.

      Your reputation of anti-Messi is unwarranted I think, but it does seem to me that perhaps for this match you’re overthinking it. Messi had a hattrick that helped us win the points, despite wasting three more glorious chances to put it to sleep. Pedro worked his ass off, and that too helped us get the win.

    4. I really do believe a lot of the missed chances are fatigue. That said, I don’t blame Messi for not finding him for wide open shots. If I were Messi, I’d have lost confidence in most of my teammates the last 2 years. He probably feels he can create something better at this point. Speculation of course, because Messi does make the correct pass more often than not. He also makes the absurd pass, the sublime pass, & the bad pass occasionally.

  30. If Mou were our coach, Tello would be starting over Pedro and Adriano would be in our Gala XI. We could clearly see how effective Tello was, when he came on. Personally, I admire him for not contacting that ‘pass the ball to Messi first virus, but unfortunately, Neymar is beginning to show signs and symptoms of the virus. Plus, presently, our best CB is Mascherano! And whats V.V up to? Saving the best for the last?

  31. busquets is indeed injured and wont travel with spain. no timeline for recovery is given. i have a feeling it’s one of those 2-week things.

  32. Am not an EE fan, but I don’t just want to see Ozil leave madrid for arsenal. I love that guy. ‘Madrid have signed Bale and we haven’t got a CB signing yet! We are gonna be ripped apart!’ *And no need to ask, I have tears in my eyes as I write this*

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