Champions League Draw: The Easy Route

The Champions League draw is done and Barcelona is in Group D against Panathinaikos (Greece), Copenhagen (Denmark), and Rubin Kazan (Russia).

I feel fortunate at this point because I don’t think any of those teams are particularly dangerous. I think we’re in the easiest group of all of them, though I should also point out that Rubin Kazan was a very tough opponent when we played them in last year’s group stage. It’s just that this year we’ll have their number, I’m sure of it. I don’t expect us to go through undefeated, of course, but I do expect us to qualify first.

Panathinaikos FC, a subdivision of Panathinaikos Athlitikos Omilos, is based in Athens, Greece. They qualified directly to the Champions League by winning the Greek Super League.

FC København is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. They qualified as Danish champions and then defeated BATE Borisov and Rosenborg in CL qualifiers.

Rubin Kazan is based in Kazan, Russia. They qualified directly to the group stage as Russian Champions.

Dates have yet to be set, but should be very soon.

What are your thoughts on this?

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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

172 Comments

  1. Kxevin
    August 27, 2010

    Updates, quotes n’stuff, via Twitter:

    –Barcelona rejected to include Huntelaar, Borriello or Flamini in the deal and asked for Tiago Silva or Pato. Milan didn’t agree. [rac1]

    –Barcelona has started the negotiations for Ibrahimovic asking 60M and would have put 35M as the absolute minimum. [rac1]

    –Barcelona sports vice-president Bartomeu has travelled today to Liverpool to discuss a transfer of Mascherano. [rac1]

    –There would have been made progress today in the negotiations with Liverpool on the transfer of Javier Mascherano. [rac1]

    –Del Nido (president Sevilla): “We are negotiating with Barcelona on Caceres but he’s not the only option.”

    –Puyol: “I’m the captain of the team and I’m not talking that much with Pep either, but the door of the coach is always open for everyone.”

    –Puyol: “Ibrahimovic is our teammate, he’s training well, he’s one of the best strikers in the world. We’ll see what happens.”

    Sport is saying that an agreement in principle has been reached, and that both clubs will announce the Mascherano transfer today (now Friday). But the numbers they are bandying about, 16+6 seem too close to the numbers that were previously rejected by Liverpool.

    –Looks like a loan deal to Benfica for Hleb. Can’t find anyone to buy that dude, yo. Damn!

  2. Kxevin
    August 27, 2010

    I also wouldn’t put past the idea of selling Ibrahimovic, then making a purchase in the January window, once we see how life without him goes. His announcement will come today, and I can’t imagine that he won’t go to Milan. Then at least we know, and can proceed from there.

    • Bundy
      August 27, 2010

      hmm, I dont know about that, we had the same Idea last season and when it came to january we didnt bother looking for anyone to help out our struggling squad at that time.

      so far things are becoming far too complicated, It should be the other way around for us. We don’t want to have to wait till January to prepare ourselves.

  3. jord(TM)
    August 27, 2010

    We have permission to speak to Masche!`

    *http://www.liverpoolfc.tv/news/latest-news/reds-agree-mascherano-fee

    • Jnice
      August 27, 2010

      Haha you were quicker than me. Wonder how much the fee is.

      • Ethan
        August 27, 2010

        Hopefully not too much. Just saw the update on ESPN. If we got him for a good price than its a great pickup, and really one of the only ones that made sense for our DM position. Now let’s see how this whole IBRA thing plays out. Hopefully we can hold onto him and have a great squad going into next year.

      • Jnice
        August 27, 2010

        Sport was reporting 16m plus + 6 in incentives. Who knows.

      • jord(TM)
        August 27, 2010

        Balague says 16 milion (euros i hope) +add ons on skysports.Who knows if it will be disclosed.Liverpoool fans pissed at us already i bet 😀

      • Jnice
        August 27, 2010

        😀

      • Jnice
        August 27, 2010

        *http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/castellano/noticies/futbol/temporada10-11/08/27/n100827112582.html

        Confirmation on our site too.

  4. jord(TM)
    August 27, 2010

    Im twitching here.He better not fail his medical or get lost on a plane or something.Ive wanted this for 4 years!Ramzi must be pleased 😀

    • Jnice
      August 27, 2010

      Ramzi is crying tears of joy.

  5. August 27, 2010

    Mascherano fee 16+6 in performance based variables. All over Sky Sports, too.

    • Jnice
      August 27, 2010

      Thats in pounds, no?

      • Euler
        August 27, 2010

        Reported on Soccernet – 16M euro at base with a potential to increase to 22M.

      • Jnice
        August 27, 2010

        Not bad.

  6. August 27, 2010

    Some early reports are saying we’ve agreed on the 40m fee for Ibrahimovic, and he will take8m per. Yes, kids, that’s a 4m pay cut. Wow. Things must really suck for him with us. I know that 8m vs12m is kinda academic, but still.

    • Vicsoc8
      August 27, 2010

      I still think its a question of being an undisputed starter for Zlatan, but like I said before, I have no evidence to substantiate this claim.

      I’m glad we’re signing a midfielder, even if I’m still not convinced Mascherano is the right choice. I hope he proves me wrong.

  7. Euler
    August 27, 2010

    Good news on Mascherano. Squad depth was critically low and there was no way the club could go into the long season with one DM.

    A year ago it looked like Mascherano would cost Barca around 36M euro. Now it’ll likely be far, far less as the market reequilibrates.

    The way the Ibra deal was originally structured as a loan it was Barca who was going to get the short end of the financial stick. As a sale it is now Ibra who is going to make out very badly. He must want to leave desperately as he’s writing off 16M euro guaranteed during the prime earning potential of his life. He’ll never come close to seeing that money again.

    I find it hard to believe he’d agree to this. Still want to see if perhaps he gets a cut of the transfer fee (if I were his agent I would demand that…)

    In many ways the organization is moving back in time in terms of the sporting project to the start of the transfer window last year when it was Villa and Masch Pep originally targeted and wanted.

    In some ways the organization is resetting itself if the Ibra move goes through.

    • Vicsoc8
      August 27, 2010

      Very interesting thought on the club reseting to last years summer window.

      Say what you will about Rosell, the man appears to be able to get pretty good deals on the transfer market.

      • Euler
        August 27, 2010

        How things have been done has been extremely problematic. But if things move in this direction Barca will essentially now erased much of the last year and reconfigured itself into the state it was seeking to achieve at the start of last year’s transfer window.

        But that reset comes at an opportunity cost of some depth as it’s unlikely that the club will be able to come up with a quality striker at reasonable cost before the window closes.

        And let’s hope Pep gets along with Mascherano. Though at the price they got him for it’s very hard to argue with the transaction.

  8. Euler
    August 27, 2010

    The guardian is now reporting that the transfer fee was closer to 25M pounds/ 30M euro and that Liverpool was set on not accepting less than what they paid for Mascherano originally (which was originally 18M pounds/22M euro).

    We’ll just have to wait and see. If it’s in fact closer to 25M pounds then Barca will have paid more for Mascherano then they received for Yaya given the agents cut of the transfer fee.

  9. iBlau
    August 27, 2010

    Off-topic:

    Ronaldinho after the Gamper:

    On the T-shirt tribute: “I just wanted to thank people and Barça, what I wrote on the shirt is true, I do love Barça.”

    On the return to Camp Nou: “There is no way to explain it, so many memories in only as few seconds and I have so many friends. I felt so many great emotions. When you see a video like this with all the fans in Camp Nou waiting for you it is like being in a film, did not expect things to be so great. The players gave me the trophy. The homage they paid is normally reserved for players who are no longer alive. They have done it for me in person and it has truly touched me. I had the chance to play with great player and that helped me do what I did and to start such a great era for Barça.”

    On Rosell: “I have a completely different relationship with [Rosell], He is my friend, my brother and the one who brought me here. I am pleased that he is in his rightful place as president of Barça.”

    President Sandro Rosell presented Ronaldinho a award inscripted: “with great affection in recognition of your exemplary sporting career wearing the Blaugrana colours”

    Sorry if it’s been posted already.

  10. nikhils
    August 27, 2010

    A bit of a BANG(er)S and Masch day in BCN, no?

  11. Eklavya
    August 27, 2010

    Pure speculation, but I would like Lisandro Lopez as a striker.

    • Diego S.
      August 27, 2010

      I was hoping that last year .. He’s always pressuring defenders .. Knows how to score .. Still kinda young and there’s room for improvement

      • barcayute
        August 27, 2010

        lisandro is about 25 0r 26

  12. nikhils
    August 27, 2010

    At this point I am thinking Rosell is a FloPo puppet installed in a chilling conspiracy to end Barca’s world domination.

  13. ML
    August 27, 2010

    Stuff to know (sorry if any or all of this has been mentioned):

    – Liverpool and Barcelona have agreed in principle for the fee of Mascherano, he will be expected to arrive in Barcelona this weekend to finalise the deal.

    – Victor Sanchez has been officialy loaned out to Getafe FC.

    – Ibrahimovic has been given 24 hours to decide his future, and this time frame is nearly up.

    To be honest, we are a tad crazy to even consider selling Ibra, he is worth so much to the club both as a striker and a player with experience. Mascherano is a great signing, and for a reported fee of 16 million euros plus 6 million in variables, this seems to be a cheap one. Also wanted Victor Sanchez to continue at Barca, but it looks like he is destined to wear other colours.

  14. y2k156
    August 27, 2010

    So Masch finally comes in. I feel pretty confidant that he will fit and will be a great addition.

    I also think that we might play 4-2-3-1 sometimes this season with Messi or Villa leading the attack.

    Sad to see Ibra go. I had high hopes from Villa – Ibra – Messi front line but i guess Ibra wanted confirmed starter position which Pep would not have said yes. Same reason as with Yaya.

    Assuming Ibra goes, i do want another striker, some one like Larsson who can be happy to play bit part but can be good if required. Diego Milito would have been perfect but he is of course not for sale. I cannot think of too many names. Maybe Ruud van Nistelrooy.

    So both Barca and EE will go in season with limited number of strikers. EE with two of which one is suspect and we with four of which one is suspect:).

  15. GREECE BARCA
    August 27, 2010

    yeah!it s official!great great signing!good job by the board!our transfer policy became to be as good as must be!i am so happy right now!

  16. GREECE BARCA
    August 27, 2010

    we have so quality that is not fair for the other teams in europe!now i have a strong feeling that this season we will see the best barca under pep coaching!and yes with or without ibra,i don.t care.

  17. August 27, 2010

    Fight!!!FIGHT!!!
    Ibra’s wife came to the training session this morning!

    • Eklavya
      August 27, 2010

      Now what does that mean?

      • chippo
        August 27, 2010

        Zlatans wife (Helena Seger), is probable more than your averege WAG. She was marketing manager for Fly Me (before she married Zlatan).

  18. Bashir
    August 27, 2010

    Iniesta – villa – Messi. Is My regular Start prediction
    And Pedro being our main forward sub.

    Since iniesta is all over the place, it’s good with 2 goal getters

    Have a feelin we won’t buy Zlatans cover
    And Masch will get more time due Sergio being able to play.

    Keita Sergio Xavi. Or Sergio Masch Xavi
    If keita is restin

    Oh man do we need a Att Mid

    • August 27, 2010

      All this mess is to buy Robinho. We will see how it goes.

  19. Diego S.
    August 27, 2010

    I’m so Happy the Masch deal is done .. I’m much more relaxed with the current Squad .. But the Ibra situation is still confusing I hope he stays .. Or Get Lisandro Lopez !!

    On Another Note .. I just had a dream that we signed Toni Kroos!

    • hannibal
      August 27, 2010

      Lisandro would be a great pick-up for us, but he would come only very expensive. Lyon payed over 25 mill if I’m not mistaken. And with only a couple of days left…

  20. maiko
    August 27, 2010

    Sell Ibra and go back in for Cesc.

  21. August 27, 2010

    “All this mess is to buy Robinho. We will see how it goes.”

    I’d be pretty friggin upset if that turned out to be true. There is no denying his talent but his attitude sucks – something that he has proven at the two last teams he played for.
    I almost feel sorry for Robinho since it seems that he can only be happy in Brazil but Man City will never let him go back because they paid so much for him.

  22. dawd
    August 27, 2010

    From swedish newspaper:
    Innan Raiola lämnar arenan säger han till SportExpressen.se:
    – Det är upp till honom när han lämnar ett svar. Om inte i dag så i morgon. Jag hoppas på i dag. Men det är ett viktigt beslut i hans liv.
    ========
    Before Raiola left arena he told sportexpressen.se:
    – Its up to him when he gives an answer. If its not today so it’ll be tomorrow. I hope its today. But its a very important decision in his life.

  23. majatt
    August 27, 2010

    On Masch, maybe he took a salary reduction to ease the cost of the transfer? I know he really wanted out.

    • August 27, 2010

      uuuh but will his wife be happy with that, me wonders lol

      • majatt
        August 27, 2010

        lol, he just needs to hide the pay cheque!

  24. Colby
    August 27, 2010

    *http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11669_6340735,00.html

    Balague reporting that it is 16 million pounds, not euros, plus 6 million in incentives.

    That brings it up to 20 million euros plus 7 million euros in incentives.

  25. August 27, 2010

    yeah well im still so pissed off about the Ibra situation that I can’t even be properly happy about Masch’s arrival.

    (only good thing is that i can refer to this whole mess as “the Ibra situation”. Feels as if we’re discussing a Tarantino film 🙂

  26. ermengol
    August 27, 2010

    “Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has confirmed AC Milan and Barcelona are in the race to sign Robinho.”

    //http://soccernet.espn.go.com/news/story?id=818030&sec=transfers&cc=5739&cc=5739

  27. Hilal
    August 27, 2010

    Since we are throwing names into the new CF hat. How about some Romelu Lukaku? Not sure if you guys have heard of him but he is supposed to be the next Drogba. He is young (17 i think) so he shouldnt be too expensive. He is big, strong, good in the air, fast, great with his feet and has one hell of a shot on him. He COULD be the ideal striker. I stress the word could cos he is untested at the highest levels and still very young, but I am guessing he wouldnt make too much of a fuss if he didnt start every game. Plus I imagine we could get him for less than half of what we sell Ibra for.

    For those of you who havent seen him

    *http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rH7aOG263tw

    Otherwise I have always liked Llorente and I dont think he would cost too much either. Forlan is always a good option, but would he leave? I think he would also be pretty expensive after the WC he just had. Kanoute is another striker i would take in a second, although again, not sure if he would leave.

    Unfortunately if we do sell Ibra I have a feeling we are not going to replace him with a striker, maybe a winger like Robinho or Mata, but that wouldnt really replace what Ibra provides.

    I am ecstatic about Mascherano though. At 22m that is a steal, an absolute steal. I know this probably wont go down too well with a lot of the fans here, but as a pure destroyer, he is better than Yaya. For those who dont think he can pass I suggest you look at some of his play for Argentina, there is absolutely nothing wrong with his passing. Most importantly he brings some proper steal and aggression to our midfield. That is going to come in VERY handy if and when we face the EPL teams.

    So I am happy and sad at the same time!

    • Helge
      August 27, 2010

      Romelu Lukaku could definitely be a good bargain. But he stated some days ago that he wants to finish his school in Belgium first, that is he will not join before next season. And there are sooooo many clubs after him, it won’t be easy to sign him 🙁

      • hannibal
        August 27, 2010

        Romelu has loads of POTENTIAL, thus far he’s good but not exceptional. Still too much a risk at this point imo. Plus, he’ll stay another year to finish school his dad (old 1st division player in Belgium Roger Lukaku) has stressed this numerous times.
        Romelu’s big Idol is Drogba, he even visited Chelsea training facilities this summer (as a tourist).

  28. August 27, 2010

    I like Llorente too but the Liga is pretty weak right now. Do we really want to screw over another Liga club? And Athletic Club de Bilbao at that? I mean, they hate EE even more than we do!

    • Hilal
      August 27, 2010

      Haha good point Lev, although my concern is Barca and not other teams. Plus, what is really weakening the league is the lopsisded TV contracts handed out to the teams, but that is another story.

  29. Kxevin
    August 27, 2010

    Ibrahimovic attended practice with his wife this morning. Sounds like some folks are saying their goodbyes. Raiola has said that this is an emotional decision for Ibrahimovic, that he and his family are happy in Barcelona. The P.S. in that statement is, “But he ain’t happy with the coach, so he’s willing to take a pay cut to leave.”

    If we sign Robinho, you will hear my howls of outrage wherever you are.

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