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. Tickets booked – game, flight, and hotel – for BCN in April! 8 nights in the magic city and great seats for Bilbao. This will be my second time since I became a fan. Now I just have to try to get reservations for Tickets (the restaurant).

    Kxevin, I think I remember you said you liked La Fonda. Mixed reviews on Trip Advisor. When was the last time you went?

    Also, want to do a day trip out of town this time. Has anyone visited Girona? I’m a big history buff and I’ve heard the medieval walls are mostly intact and you can walk most of the old walls. how’s the rest of the town? Any other must-see’s? Would Tarragona be better for history?

    1. Tarragona is nice, easy to reach from barcelona on the rail as a day trip, and has lots of ruins, more roman-era stuff than barcelona.

    2. Is it mobbed like Sagrada Familia? Would love to go, but not in a big crowd.

      Thanks for the reply, I really like your comments.

    3. Wasnt when we went but you need a strong constitution for the ride up the mountain and even more for the funicular to the top. I wussed outta that one 🙂

      Nothing is as mobbed as the Sagrada !

    4. The funicular is AWESOME! The time of year that you go is important. Off season is much nicer. No lines, no stress.

      My last visit to La Fonda was two years ago. It might have slid, which would be unfortunate.

  2. Official: Ibrahim Afellay will wear shirt number “19” this season, while Isaac Cuenca will keep shirt number “23” #fcblive

    1. I hope they both get a chance to play with the team. Lots of talent there, terrible luck with injuries. I think Cuenca at least should be recovered in a couple of months.

    2. Barcastuff says Cuenca should be ready in about a month and Afellay at the end of December. Puyi on the other hand, was supposed to have been ready when the liga resumes after the international break now, it’s been pushed back to end of September 🙁 “Back on track” he said on twitter. I can only guess he had a minor setback. I hope we don’t pay for not getting a CB AGAIN this year and el Tata needs to realise Puyi is not a spring chicken anymore.

    3. It really is shocking that we didn’t sign a CB. Puyol always gets injured and takes a great deal of time recovering from injuries these days. One thing is for certain, it will take Puyol longer than expected to get back in the squad, he will get injured shortly thereafter, and it will take him a long time to get over future injuries.

      He’s a great figure in our history and I love him but he’s very much like many Hall of Fame boxers — he just doesn’t know when it’s his time to hang them up.

    4. Who are they going to displace in order to get that playing time? By my count there are four wingers ahead of them in the depth chart (Neymar, Alexis, Pedro, Tello) and we don’t need them as MFs.

      No offence and I’m not having a go at you, but statements like, “I hope they both get a chance to play with the team”, are very unrealistic and sound rather motherly. It’s right up there with statements like, ‘I hope for world peace’.

    5. Well…I do hope for world peace, don’t you? It may not be realistic, but neither was JDS’ desire to stick around for another season. He got his miracle, why can’t I have mine?

      And how dare you call me “motherly”, young man?!? 👿

    6. Both these guys will play very little this season (maybe just some CdR matches) unless the team has a serious injury crisis. Both should have been loaned out, especially Cuenca, in the best interests of their long term development (Afellay has already developed as much as he ever will and, largely because of injuries, won’t ever make the grade here).

  3. The folks at Madrid sure do know business. With the reputed money from Arsenal (unofficial at the time of writing: 50m) and that of Higuain for Napoli (37m), they will have recouped most of the enormous amounts of money spent on Bale.
    I do wonder if Rosell and his cronies have any understanding whatever in what they’re doing. Real offloaded Callejon for 10m and Albiol for 12m to Napoli. Rosell couldn’t even get 5m for a player of Villa’s stature. It’s really distressing.

    1. We better get Oliver Torres, eventually, out of this Villa to ATM deal.

      Albiol for €12m? What are they smoking in Naples?

    2. It’s silly for a guy who hardly played in 3 years, so it would have taken some great bargaining on Perez’s side to wring that money out of De Laurentiis.
      Real is in the red for this transfer season, close to 65m. But they have signed 6 new players, all under 24, for almost the same net amount we paid for Neymar. And now they have a team with capabilities that are as devastating as Bayen’s, and with a coach who is wise and not a reactionary like Mou-Mou was. They are scary.

    3. They don’t impress me so. EE were very close to drawing two games already this season from three (with one at home).

      They let Ozil go. Very foolish from where I sit. I’d have both Ozil and Isco in my best XI if I were their coach. Those two can coexist. At the very least they can be rotated. I’d have offloaded di Maria before Ozil.

      Also, I heard they loaned out Coentrao to Man Utd. That’s not the wisest move either. He’s a better defender than Marcelo. They only have one established LB in the squad at the moment. That’s not so clever.

      Did they pick up a striker? If not, they’re short there too. If Eczema goes down with a flare up they’ll have to resort to Morata. Morata is still very young and Higuain is superior at this moment in time.

      EE looks wobbly in the back to me. Even more so than last year under defensive guru Mou Mou. They’re choosing Diego Lopez over Iker, again, which is another bizarre choice.

      I guess it’s all in the way you look at things. With that amount of talent they’ll always be formidable. They almost always are.

      Who are their six new players? I’ve got Bale, Isco, Illarramendi, Carvajal (I’m not counting Casemiro because he was already there).

    4. I agree with the assessment of the RM dealings. I’m really surprised about Ozil. To me he difficult unlocked games for them. Is co is a great player but he is young and youngsters will go up and down in form till they mature. Can he take on the creative role for a whole season? Marcello is nowhere in the defending stakes for me but I suspect it was more his allegiance to the old regime which saw him off. Finally, if you think we have a problem with two top dogs just light the touch paper and stand back. CR7 will be sad again the first time Bale has a speculative shot ( and he has a few – remember we see only highlights). I’m also not sure CR7 can play CF against two CBs.
      The one unknown is how quickly Bale will settle. He can be dangerous, especially to a side like us which lacks a little pace and bulk although he may be curtailed by Ronaldo’s reluctance to allow him to have a free role.
      Looking forward to it already.

    5. I thought they signed Jese’ for 6m? I saw it in a Marca article, which I can’t locate anymore. Or am I thinking of someone else?

      We’ll have to disagree on Oezil. More often than not he would disappear entirely from games; he was often substituted by the 70th minute mark. His work rate left a lot to be desired. Isco has loads of talent and shows up when you need him; Oezil on the other hand… I think Benzema would be a great number 9 at Barca. I know he flatters to deceive, doesn’t run, and seems much too nice to be a true number 9, but I think he’d fit in quite well with us.

    1. If it were going to happen it would have happened long ago. As it is we might as well wait. Most teams settle their defense early in the transfer market, they don’t leave it to the 25th hour. Martino and Rosell think they can get away with another year and no proper defenders to help Pique. Fine. I doubt very much there will be much difference from the hammerings we took last season in the CL and in important games, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

  4. Ludicrous. We will finish top 2 in La Liga, fail in the quarter finals of the Champions League, and win the Copa Del Rey IF someone else knocks EE out first….

  5. So, there was a live Rosell interview on the radio today, and the long and short of it:

    — He is innocent of all that Brazil silliness.
    — They could have sold Villa in January for 10m, but the coaching staff wanted to keep him. (Nice work throwing Vilanova under the bus, ace.)
    — He is being spied upon and persecuted.
    — He has a part in 40-50 companies.
    — The Brazil funds were payments for fees, not kickbacks or anything sordid such as that.
    — Cruijff is a legend, but not a nice person. And he is what he is because of Barça, let’s not forget.
    — Guardiola is our best coach ever. I have no idea why he said the stuff that he said. He’s wrong about it.
    — People inside and outside the club are persecuting it, and trying to bring it down.

    There is lots more, and if you’re on Twitter, blitzen (@blitzen13) was doing a fine job of loose translations.

    1. To be fair, the coaching staff honestly didn’t want to offload Villa in January and neither did most fans, I’d imagine. Even though he wasn’t a starter he was very useful to the team in their pursuit of three trophies, at the time.

      I wouldn’t call that “throwing Tito” under the bus. I’d have made the same statement myself.

      Rosell may not be the greatest president ever but he’s not responsible for all of the world’s ills let alone the clubs. Just an observation but it looks like there is vehement anti-Rosell brigade that have their backs in a hump every time the man opens his mouth.

    2. To be fair, that’s usually because Sandro often does such a good job of shoving his foot into his mouth when he speaks.

    3. Thanks for the credit! 😀

      Everything I tweeted was based on the (Spanish) reporting of @OpinionCule, who is always on the ball. Go follow them.

  6. So. The window is closed, and we made no last-minute deals, just as Martino said we wouldn’t. He did say that we might in the winter window, so we will see what happens then.

    It will take a hefty dose of luck to get the club through, but the club has had great luck before with injuries, so we will wait and see. I don’t agree with the decision not to buy a CB or two, even as I agree with the decision not to buy for the sake of buying, if that makes sense.

    This transfer window had Bale moving for almost 100m, Ozil moving for almost 50, freakin’ Fellaini moving for almost 40. In other words, Crazy Town. Even in that market, I think the club was gun shy about pulling the trigger for the right CB. Some of it is history …. it’s a position we have never splashed for. Some of it is quality, and finding players with enough quality to improve things.

    Ultimately, I dunno. Were I ZubiZa I would have just gone ahead and ponied up for Mangala in a straight buyout. We were going to spend more than that for Thiago Silva. But I’m not ZubiZa. I do know that people ripping on him for not being good should realize he consults with the coaching staff, then they talk to the board. So that’s that.

    1. You know it might not be so daft. By the time January comes around who knows there may be some top defenders who haven’t settled with their new club or clubs who haven’t qualified for the later stages of the CL or even some not getting a game. Life can be strange like that.

      Btw, loved Bale’s attempt at keepie up at his unveiling! He’s not actually that technically gifted imo.

    2. I’d say sorry I missed it, but I was having the time of my life doing a third day of off-road riding in the Wisconsin woods.

      Arsenal made the move for Ozil. Huge. They still need a striker, but man, what an infusion of quality.

    3. Arsenal fans would say that Bale is a very fast simian that doesn’t look so clever but can can peel bananas with his feet. He does have a certain Planet of the Apes quality about him.

      In all seriousness, he’s got blistering pace and can score. But he’s not as technically good as Ozil and di Maria. He once played LB and was almost offloaded by Tottenham as a makeweight in a transfer dealing. The fact that he is now the most expensive transfer signing ever makes EE look a little foolish and won’t please Cristina, and her ego, very much. He’s a good player but quite overrated and more suited to the fast paced EPL.

      Does anyone remember Michael Owen?

    4. You know, those presentations do matter, at least a little.

      After the stuff Ronaldinho pulled out 10 years ago when we were presenting him, everyone who moves for big money is under pressure to do a few tricks. And I have to say there is some correlation between how they perform at that if they do try to show off and how they do in real games after that – one thing is the technical quality itself that is required to do the tricks, but even more important is the ability to handle the pressure. That Bale is nowhere near the technical level to justify his price tag was know a long time ago – he has speed and power, but that’s it really. Now we know he probably isn’t that good at handling pressure either.

      I am actually happy that they bought him, he adds even more speed and may give us trouble since speed is one thing we sorely lack. But otherwise it is crazy insane transfer that should never have cost more than 20M under normal circumstances.

      P.S. If this continues another season or two, there will be a repeat of what happened 10-15 years ago during the first wave of transfer madness when clubs, especially in Italy, were spending crazy money on players that did not cost that much due to the big infusion of TV money in the game. A number of them eventually went bankrupt (not just in Italy) and Italian football still has not recovered. This looks like a repeat of that episode, this time driven by oil money. Too bad Madrid will not suffer because they actually generate the revenue, including from player sales, to pay for these transfers…

    5. When you look at what they got from their sales, the Bale purchase is pretty much a wash, especially atop Ozil, a player they paid what, 15m for?

      It doesn’t mean the actual sum isn’t reprehensible, however.

      And to boot, Bale is broken a lot.

    6. Well, they bought Isco and Illarramendi too. But still, if I count everything correctly, they spend ~165M euro, and sold players for ~120.

      That’s a net spending of 45M plus whateber they lost in taxes in the deals.

      With 450M annual revenue and a lower wage bill than ours, they can more than afford that…

    7. P.S. Not only is the sum reprehensible, but the fact that that he cost 3.5 times as much as Isco really helps out in perspective. They are different positions, of course, but still, Isco is at least twice the players that Bale is…

      If you ask me, Bale is a little more than a bigger, stronger version and slightly more skillful version of Theo Walcott.

      Anyway, as I said above, more power to them. I don’t fancy the prospect of playing an even faster and more athletic version of Madrid than the one we faced last year in the condition in which we were last year. But hopefully, we will not be in that condition and that will not matter much because they will simply not see the ball if we play as we can and should, as it was in the first year with Mourinho.

  7. Man Utd didn’t look too clever in this transfer window. They brought in a young Uruguayian RB for the future, overspent for Fellaini when they could have got him for cheaper a month ago, and brought in a LB on loan, Coentrao, which they really didn’t need.

    It’s never a good sign when a club begins a season with a new manager and a new CEO. It looks like neither of these two are fit for the job. Happy days!

    1. That’s what I’m hearing now too. First, there were three imposters ‘representing’ Man Utd in Bilbao and now this. Man Utd have looked rather incompetent on transfer deadline day.

  8. I, for one, am very happy that EE didn’t upgrade their striker position. Had Suarez went there he would have given us more difficulty than Bale. Bale is just a faster, less technical, version of di Maria.

    When’s the first Clasico? Bring it on!

  9. While I agree Bale is not a superstar player, I think some folks on here are going over board to say he’s not that good. He created more chances than Messi & Ronaldo last season. 75 me thinks. Tottenham didn’t even have a out & out striker most of last season, so his 4 assists total would’ve been much better if they’d had the quality up front. I’ve seen him pick out some runs with sublime crosses and passes into the box. He’s also another threat from deep. With CR & him outside of the box, teams will have to respect their ability and stay out on them, thus creating space for lots of runs to get behind the defense. I would play him over Di Maria any day. I don’t put much into the 1st 2 games of the year. They’ve added a lot or pieces and they need time to gel. I hope enough time that we build a comfortable lead, b/c when they start clicking it will be scary. I wish we had some deep threats to open up space for us. Adriano is about it and that’s not often b/c he is rarely fit.

    1. For me, di Maria is a far better passer of the ball, thinks quicker, and is a better team player than Bale. Bale is a great player if he has the space to operate in which, I believe, he’ll have less of in a more tactical and technical league which he’s coming to. Bale may not be a one trick pony but he’s a pony with few tricks.

    2. I never compared Bale w/Ozil. The 2 players are completely different. I never said Bale was worth €100. No one is, let alone him. However, its not his fault Perez will pay ungodly amounts of money for players. Tottenham weren’t going to sell him for anything less and EE were willing to pay it, so that’s economics 101 to me. When I go to a game I don’t want to pay $5 for a hotdog & $3.50 for a bottled water, but that’s what they cost and I’m willing to pay it because I’m hungry & thirsty. I don’t blame the hotdog. “How can you cost so much you dog! Your an inferior dog to ones I’ve had in the past for half the price!”

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