Thursday, August 30, 2012

Champions League Draw: Arsenal in Group B

Written by Mugais Jahangir

The draw in full:

Group A: FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Paris Saint-Germain, Dinamo Zagreb

Group B: Arsenal, Schalke, Olympiakos, Montpellier

Group C: AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga

Group D: Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund

Group E: Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Nordsjaelland

Group F: Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, Bate Borisov

Group G: FC Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic

Group H: Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj

Champions league games are always challenging. It doesn't matter whether you get the 'easiest' group or the 'group of death'. I think last season's group C made that perfectly clear. Manchester United failing to qualify from a group that had clubs like Otelul Galati explained why Champions League teams should never be taken for granted. This season again, we have groups with 'not so good teams' and we have a group of death. Arsenal landed up in group B. There was no shock for Arsenal fans. This season, a 'shock' comprised of teams like PSG, Borusia Dortmund or Juventus. Arsenal got FC Schalke 04, Montpellier HSC and Olympiacos instead.

Arsenal FC

13 times English Champions with 16 Champions league appearances, 16 years in a row. Arsenal is the most prolific club in this group and should be able to win it. They have a great record in the Champions league, hence putting them in pot 1.

UEFA Ranking: 6

FC Schalke 04

Finishing 3rd in the Bundesliga last season, the Germans secured their CL spot for the 7th time. They have also been the German champions 7 times while finishing as the runners-up 9 times.

UEFA Ranking: 21

Total games played: 2
Arsenal won: 1
Schalke won: 1

Olympiacos F.C.

Olympiacos are the current Greek champions. They have won the Greek league 39 times and have had 26 appearances in the Champions League.

UEFA Ranking: 32

Total games played: 4
Arsenal won: 2
Olympiacos won: 2

Montpellier HSC

The French champions won their first league title last season and it will be their first appearance in the Champions League.

UEFA Ranking: 140

Arsenal and Montpellier have never played each other before.

18th September: Montpellier (A)
3rd October: Olympiacos (H)
24th October: Schalke (H)
6th November: Schalke (A)
21st November: Montepllier (H)
4th November: Olympiacos (A)

Arsenal have a squad good enough to challenge all these teams and you would expect them to go through to the knockout stages and maybe even win the group. The draw came with no big surprise. We know it could have been a lot worse but whatever teams you put in the group, Arsenal has always been a strong champions league side under the guidance of Arsene Wenger.


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