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Thursday, 28 August 2014

How far can Premier League sides go?

The Champions League group stage draw took place today and now its time to have a look at the Barclays Premier League sides groups and their chances in Europe’s premier club competition.

It has been a disappointing few years in the Champions League for English teams bar Chelsea’s surprise win in 2012 but could this year be a welcome change to this trend.

Firstly let’s look at Liverpool, after a five year absence the Merseysiders are back and will be more than happy with their group. Having been seeded in pot 3 the possibility of a tough group was high but Liverpool have certainly avoided this.

Liverpool were drawn in Group B alongside defending champions Real Madrid, Swiss side FC Basel and Bulgarian champions Ludogorets. Real Madrid will offer the Liverpool fans the glamour tie they’ve been hoping for while the other two sides should give them a relatively straight forward passage through.

The expectation for Liverpool will be to the progress to the knockout round but should they make it this far no one could write them off from going all the way, the atmosphere at Anfield combined with their exciting talent could see them go far.

Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea were dealt a relatively easy group this afternoon and will be hoping to recreate their success in 2012. Chelsea have been drawn in Group G alongside Schalke, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor, none of whom are pushovers although Chelsea will be expecting a straight forward passage to the knockout rounds.

Come the latter rounds of the competition Chelsea look as ready as any team to go all the way, their strength in depth, new players such as Fabregas and Costa and the experience of Jose Mourinho puts them amongst the favourites to end as champions of Europe once again.

Manchester City have been all out of luck when it comes to group stage draws and this year has proven no different, the only Manchester side in Europe this season have been drawn with Bayern Munich and Cska Moscow for successive years with Roma rounding off group E.

Despite the difficulty of the group, Manchester City should expect to qualify for the knockout’s to fulfil their minimum expectations, City will even be hoping to top the group over rivals Munich.

Should they reach the knockouts City, similar to Chelsea, will hope to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League and with the strong squad Pellegrini has at his disposal they will fear no one.

Finally, Arsenal will once again be hopeful of progressing from their group which contains Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht. Dortmund will be a test for Arsenal but they will be strong favourites to progress from the group and have every chance of topping the group.

Arsene Wenger’s side have been largely unsuccessful in the knockout stages of the Champions League and it is hard seeing them making it much further than the quarter final stage mainly due to the lack of a top quality striker.

All the English sides will be optimistic coming into the Champions League but should any of them lift the cup at the end of the season they will need to reach the standard of the ever-present giants Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

Group Stage Draw

Group A
Atletico Madrid
Group B
Real Madrid
FC Basel
Ludogorets Razgrad
Group C
Zenit St Petersburg
Bayer Leverkusen
Group D
Borussia Dortmund
Group E
Bayern Munich
Manchester City
CSKA Moscow
Group F
Paris St-Germain
Apoel Nicosia
Group G
Sporting Lisbon
Group H
Shakhtar Donetsk
Athletic Bilbao
BATE Borisov