Champions League Draw 2013: Predicting Groups of Death for English Teams

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Champions League Draw 2013: Predicting Groups of Death for English Teams
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Providing Arsenal finish the job they started so well last week and defeat Fenerbahce on aggregate in the second leg of their playoff qualifier on Tuesday evening, England will fill the four Champions League spaces allocated to it by UEFA.

Champions Manchester United, runners-up Manchester City and Europa League winners Chelsea are already safely through to the group stage by virtue of finishing first, second and third in the Premier League last season.

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And, after an uncharacteristically poor 2012/13 campaign that saw each of England's clubs eliminated before the quarterfinals, they will be determined to challenge in the latter stages of this season's competition.

Historically, English sides have negotiated the group stage of the Champions League with ease, but that changed last year when both Chelsea and City went out before the knockout stages had even begun.

With the group-stage draw set to take place in Nyon, Switzerland, on Thursday, we take a look at the most difficult set of opponents England's best could come up against.

All seeding information courtesy of UEFA.com

 

Manchester United

United will be seeded in pot one on Thursday, which, in theory at least, gives them the best possible chance of avoiding Europe's top clubs in the opening stage of the competition. But that doesn't mean they'll ease through to the last 16.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

David Moyes could still face French champions PSG, who made the quarterfinals last season and only lost to Spanish giants Barcelona on away goals.

The Red Devils could also face Turkish club Galatasaray for the second consecutive season, a side they lost to away from home at the same stage last year.

To complete a difficult group, United could come up against former adversary Rafa Benitez and his new-look Napoli side. The Italian club have added the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Pepe Reina and Raul Albiol to their ranks already this summer.

Manchester United

PSG

Galatasaray 

Napoli

 

Chelsea

Despite winning last season's Europa League, Chelsea endured a difficult time away from their domestic action.

The 2012 Champions League winners will be hoping to challenge once again under returning boss Jose Mourinho, particularly as glory in Europe's elite competition eluded him during his first spell at Stamford Bridge.

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Blues will also be seeded in pot one but could face Italian side AC Milan from pot two, with a trip to the imposing San Siro a daunting prospect.

They could also face last season's runners-up and arguably one of the most exciting teams in world football, Borussia Dortmund, as the Germans still find themselves seeded in pot three.

To complete their group from hell, Chelsea could face Scottish champions Celtic, providing Neil Lennon's men can overturn a 2-0 deficit in the second leg of their playoff game against Shakhter Karagandy on Wednesday night.

If not, Belgian champions Anderlecht will put up a fight, particularly at home.

Chelsea

AC Milan

Borussia Dortmund

Celtic/Anderlecht

 

Arsenal

After taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the first leg of their playoff tie against Fenerbahce, Arsenal look certain to reach the group stage of the competition yet again.

Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Like United and Chelsea, Arsene Wenger's side will also be seeded in pot one but could still be drawn alongside some of the continent's best.

Improving Spanish side Atletico Madrid could be opponents from pot two, while Italian champions Juventus would provide a difficult challenge both home and away in pot three.

German side Bayer Leverkusen, who finished third behind only Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund last season, could complete a tough group for the Gunners.

Arsenal

Atletico Madrid

Juventus

Bayer Leverkusen

 

Manchester City

The only English side seeded outside of pot one, Manchester City face a tough battle to reach the knockout stages in their third Champions League campaign.

City have been eliminated at the group stage in both of their previous seasons and their pot three seeding looks likely to provide another tricky group for Manuel Pellegrini's side to negotiate.

Stu Forster/Getty Images

From pot one, City could face Barcelona or Real Madrid but current holders of the competition, Bayern Munich, look like the most difficult challenge.

Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk from pot two would provide a long away trip against a talented side and also a return to his former outfit for summer signing Fernandinho.

To complete City's group are in-form Real Sociedad from pot four. The Spanish team have a 2-0 lead over Lyon in their playoff qualifier and should be too strong on home soil in Wednesday's second leg.

Manchester City 

Bayern Munich

Shakhtar Donetsk

Real Sociedad

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