Football | August 31, 2018

Champions League Draw: City get favourable draw; Liverpool & Spurs face tough tests

Manchester City will be the happiest of the English teams, after being given a favourable Champions League draw. Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford with his new club Juventus, whilst Tottenham and Liverpool face tough groups which promise to serve up some mouth-watering ties.

Paired with Barcelona who cruised to the La Liga title by 14 points, Tottenham will have to be at their best to qualify from Group B. Last year, Spurs managed to top a group which included the eventual winners Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.

This year, along with the Catalan giants, Mauricio Pochettino’s side face Inter Milan who made some key additions in the transfer window, and the Eredivisie champions PSV. All the clubs in Group B have won the prestigious European Cup at least once except for Tottenham.

Last year Jürgen Klopp’s men made it all the way to the final, and enjoyed a huge 5-2 aggregate win over the Premier League record-breakers Manchester City in the quarter-finals. To advance to the knockout stages this year, Liverpool will have to overcome PSG’s frightening front three of Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, as well as Napoli, who will be led by three-times winner Carlo Ancelotti.

Amongst the tough ties, Liverpool have a long trip to Eastern Europe to face Red Star Belgrade. Last year it took an 85th minute winner from Olivier Giroud for Arsenal to defeat the Serbian side in the Europa League, although they managed to secure a 0-0 draw at the Emirates.

Manchester City established themselves as the dominant team in England last season, and will hoping to go one better and conquer Europe. They have the players, manager, and a favourable draw to make a deep run in the competition, and will be one of the favourites to at least make the semi-finals.

The English Champions will face Shakhtar Donetsk minus Fred who joined city rivals United, Lyon with ex-Red Rafael, and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Hoffenheim make their first appearance at the top table of European football, having missed out last season following their play-off loss to eventual finalists Liverpool. There will be a familiar face in their ranks as Arsenal youngster Reiss Nelson, 18, has joined their ranks on loan.

In group H Manchester United and Juventus will be expected to battle it out for the top spot. The Bianconeri have won seven-straight Serie A titles and have just added United’s favourite Portuguese son Ronaldo to their ranks, in a move that the Old Lady hope will shift the balance of power in Europe. José Mourinho has been under-fire since preseason, but has won as many Champions League titles (2) as the Italian champions in their history.

After being humbled by Sevilla last year, Valencia will present an interesting test for United, while European minnows Young boys ended Basel’s eight year stranglehold on the Swiss Super League to claim their 12th title, and their first in 32 years.

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