Manchester City have expressed clearly and without reservation their desire to thrive against the best sides in the world in Champions League play.
But it is definitely starting to feel like UEFA does not much want City around. Per Andrew Das of the New York Times:
Real Madrid and Liverpool, which is returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2009-10, will be pleased with a group that includes Switzerland’s F.C. Basel and Ludogorets of Bulgaria...Bayern Munich and Manchester City will be less pleased to find themselves matched not only against each other but also against Roma of Italy and CSKA Moscow.
City have now qualified for Champions League play in four consecutive seasons. In three of them, counting this go-round, City were drawn into what neutral commenters deemed the "Group of Death," per Ty Duffy of USA Today.
As an American, my take on this draw is that it is a stone joke. Arsenal and Chelsea, who finished behind City each of the last three seasons in the Premier League, were placed in Pot 1 "based on previous performances in the elite competition," per Chris Bascombe of The Telegraph.
The only thing Arsenal are really good at is finishing fourth in the league. As for Chelsea's storied history in this competition, well, so what? Rewarding teams for long since past accomplishments in the present day makes little sense in a "what have you done for me lately" world.
At least there is familiarity for City, as they played Bayern and CSKA Moscow in this tournament last season. And certainly neither Bayern nor CSKA Moscow are all that thrilled to be seeing City again.
Still, UEFA can call this draw random all it likes. In the words of the great Jim Croce, "that's not the way it feels."