By Walter Broeckx
The Champions League draw. This time the CL draw is upon us without much noise. After all we didn’t have to play any matches to qualify as we were runners up in the PL last season. With all the players coming back late I think we were lucky to not being involved in even more matches.
This evening the draw will take place. And Arsenal will be in pot 2 and so we will not play any other team from that pot. So we will NOT play any of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Porto, Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen. Ah blimey our almost annual trip to Dortmund that I rather like as a trip, and as a match, will not happen this time around. Oh well, can’t have it all.
So more importantly who can we play then? Let’s have a look at the different pots and I will only mention the teams we really could play. So no mention of Leicester in pot 1 or the noisy neighbours in pot 3.
Pot one: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, CSKA Moscow.
Knowing our luck we will probably end up with Barcelona or Bayern Munich. And that might be good news as that would mean that we wouldn’t play them in the round of 16 if we qualify for that. All jokes aside the “easiest” draw might be CSKA Moscow but we sure don’t like going to there. I can remember more than one dreadful European night in the former USSR. Another easier draw on paper would be Benfica. Now if we draw Benfica then Sporting Lisbon from pot 3 will be removed as we can’t have two teams from the same country in the same group.
Pot two: Arsenal. Us.
Pot three: Dynamo Kiev, Lyon, PSV Eindhoven, Sporting Lisbon, Club Bruges, Basle, Monchengladbach
Now that is a group that I really really have some favourite teams that I would love us to draw. No, it’s not Dynamo Kiev or Sporting Lisbon or Basle or even Lyon. But the latter is a bit borderline for me. But there are a few teams that would make me pump my fists if we would draw them.
My favourite team would be: Club Bruges. After some 11 years without a league title they finally won the league in Belgium again last season. Bruges is a one hour drive away from where I live and in fact a lot of our members of Arsenal Belgium have it as their local team. The Club (as it is knows to the football fans in Belgium – the other team from Bruges is known as The Cercle) has one of the biggest club stadiums in Belgium with some 29.000 seats. Both teams play in the same stadium by the way but when Club plays there is an average attendance of 26.000 and when Cercle plays… well… not even half.
My bosses are all big Club fans even though they live almost 100 km away from Bruges at the other end of Flanders. But Club is one of the 3 clubs in Belgium who have a nationwide attraction to football supporters. As president of the Arsenal Belgium supporters club I would love this draw.
A good second would be : PSV. From where I live I could almost piss up to there. I think from my front door to the stadium is around 45 minutes. So for my diesel bill it would be even better. I don’t think I have to introduce PSV much more as we have played them a few times with mixed success in the past. But sure would love us to have them also.
And then finally my good number 3 would be: Borussia Mönchengladbach. Yes the home of the most hated man in football shouting the : “Give me a B, give me an O” before he is being told to shut it up. Also very close to Belgium and to where I live.
It would take me 1,5 hours to get there from my front door once again. And I think Xhaka certainly would love this draw as it will give him the chance to play against his former club.
So that is 3 clubs all within 1.5 hour at the most from where I live. You can bet your life on it we will get Kiev in the end. I will keep my fingers crossed we end up with one of my 3 favourites from the draw.
Pot four: Monaco, Besiktas, Legia Warsaw, Ludogrets, Celtic, Rostov, Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb.
I don’t have much to say about pot 4. No teams really close to where I live. I think that maybe most English fans would love to see a draw with Celtic. As that would mean not much travelling from London. For me personally I couldn’t really care which one we would draw from this pot.
They are the teams we should make sure to get six points from and then pick up enough from the rest to go further before the real thing starts. And the cynical will say and where it ends for us. It did end for us there in the last seasons but who knows this year…. I’m always optimistic.
So let us keep our fingers crossed for a good (for me) draw with lots of nearby opponents. Let us be spared from the far away trips to Russia or Greece or Turkey. My fingers will be crossed when the draw takes place. What about yours?