By Walter Broeckx
So here we are again. The start of the new Champions League or better said the start of the draw is upon us.
Who can we meet? Who will we meet? And who do you want us to meet?
As usual the teams are placed in different pots. A big change this time is that in Pot 1 where Arsenal has usually been we now only have the teams who won their league in the top 7 leagues in Europe.
POT 1: Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern, Juventus, Benfica, PSG, Zenit, PSV.
So in that pot we have Chelsea as the PL winner and who we cant play. Other teams in that pot are ranged from very difficult to very interesting.
The on paper easiest draw would be PSV. And that is my personal favourite from this group. Not because they are easy but because I live about 40 minutes away from their stadium and would be a nice place to go to. That is if Arsenal is given enough tickets and if they have enough and can give tickets to supporters clubs.
POT 2: Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Porto, Arsenal, Man United, Valencia, Leverkusen, Man City.
As Arsenal is in this pot we will not play any of those teams in the group stages. Some real difficult teams in it. In fact I think this pot is as strong as pot 1. Maybe even stronger.
POT 3: Shakthar, Sevilla, Lyon, Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, CSKA Moscow, Galatasaray, Roma.
The pot with the teams one knows that can play a big disturbing role in order to get further. Lots of difficult teams in it and also the pot with the longest travel time with some Russian and Ukrainian teams. I don’t like playing Olympiacos again if possible. Galatasaray might be interesting as long as Poldi is not in top form. Sevilla and Roma are very tough opponents.
For me and again looking at not just the fact if it is winnable or not but Lyon looks the best option to draw from this group. Not really far away from London and oh I think we have played them recently and that went rather well. Not that this means anything when we would play them in the CL of course. We will start at 0-0 and I can imagine them being up for a revenge for that rather painful defeat at our ground.
POT 4: Bate Borisov, Borrusia Moenchen Gladbach, Wolfsburg, Dynamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gent, Malmö, Astana.
Still a few big and possible difficult opponents in this pot. Like the German teams. A few teams who would make some long travelling and that is never a good thing as it takes away a lot of time and rest.
My favourite team from this pot has to be Gent of course. The Belgian champions are also rather close to my home and I hope that we would be able to get a few tickets for this match.
So my ideal group would be in order of the pots:
PSV, Arsenal, Lyon and Gent.
So now I have probably jinxed it and we will end up with Barcelona, Shakthar and Bate Borisov.
Finally, if we still had the old way on how to fill the pots by Uefa based on the club coefficients we would have been in pot 1. And then we would have been there with Real Madrid, Bayern, Barcelona, Chelsea, Atletico, Benfica, Arsenal and Juventus.
So that would have meant that from the teams who are now in pot 1 we would for certainly avoid Bayern, Barcelona, Benfica and Juventus. Now we will have the chance to be in the same group as they are.
But no need to look at that anymore. Things are what they are and we might end up with an difficult draw or we could end up with a rather easy draw also. The luck of the draw will decide a lot. One team that we will not play in the CL this season will be Borussia Dortmund as they are in the Europa League. A bit of a shame as it was always nice to go there. But then again it’s also nice to maybe go to some new places.
The draw takes place today at (local time) 17.45 in Monaco. We will of course be there (metaphorically at least) try to tell you something about the teams we will play when we get to know our opponents.
PS: I forgot to mention that teams from Russia and Ukraine are not allowed to play each other for the moment because of the tense situation between both countries. So if we would get Zenit from pot 1 we will not get a team from Ukraine so no Kiev of Shakthar then.
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