Champions League Draw 2014: Group Stage Schedule and Early Predictions

Stuart Newman@@StuNewmanSportFeatured ColumnistAugust 28, 2014

The 2014/15 Champions League sees 32 of Europe’s elite clubs do battle, with the prize of lifting the famous trophy in Berlin next summer up for grabs for one worthy champion.

The draw took place in Monaco on Thursday, as teams were divided up across eight groups of four, and as is always the case, some fans came away smiling while others were left hanging their heads.

Here’s a look at the full draw for what’s set to be another enthralling season of Champions League football:

2014/15 Champions League Draw: Group Stage
Group AGroup BGroup CGroup D
Atletico MadridReal MadridBenficaArsenal
JuventusFC BaselZenitBorussia Dortmund
OlympiacosLiverpoolBayer LeverkusenGalatasaray
MalmoLudogoretsAS MonacoAnderlecht
Group EGroup FGroup GGroup H
Bayern MunichBarcelonaChelseaFC Porto
Manchester CityParis Saint-GermainSchalke 04Shakhtar
CSKA MoscowAjaxSporting ClubAthletic Bilbao
RomaAPOELMariborBATE Borisov

The date for your diaries when the action gets underway is September 16, with the group stage then running all the way through until mid-December.

Check out the full fixtures list for the group stage below:

Fixture List Groups A-D
Matchday 116/9Olympiacos-AtleticoMatchday 322/10Atletico-MalmoMatchday 526/11Atletico-Olympiacos
Matchday 116/9Juventus-MalmoMatchday 322/10Olympiacos-JuventusMatchday 526/11Malmo-Juventus
Matchday 116/9Liverpool-LudogoretsMatchday 322/10Ludogorets-BaselMatchday 526/11Ludogorets-Liverpool
Matchday 116/9Real-BaselMatchday 322/10Liverpool-RealMatchday 526/11Basel-Real
Matchday 116/9Monaco-LeverkusenMatchday 322/10Leverkusen-ZenitMatchday 526/11Leverkusen-Monaco
Matchday 116/9Benfica-ZenitMatchday 322/10Monaco-BenficaMatchday 526/11Zenit-Benfica
Matchday 116/9Galatasaray-AnderlechtMatchday 322/10Anderlecht-ArsenalMatchday 526/11Anderlecht-Galatasaray
Matchday 116/9Dortmund-ArsenalMatchday 322/10Galatasaray-DortmundMatchday 526/11Arsenal-Dortmund
Matchday 21/10Malmo-OlympiacosMatchday 44/11Malmo-AtleticoMatchday 69/12Olympiacos-Malmo
Matchday 21/10Atletico-JuventusMatchday 44/11Juventus-OlympiacosMatchday 69/12Juventus-Atletico
Matchday 21/10Basel-LiverpoolMatchday 44/11Basel-LudogoretsMatchday 69/12Liverpool-Basel
Matchday 21/10Ludogorets-RealMatchday 44/11Real-LiverpoolMatchday 69/12Real-Ludogorets
Matchday 21/10Zenit-MonacoMatchday 44/11Zenit-LeverkusenMatchday 69/12Monaco-Zenit
Matchday 21/10Leverkusen-BenficaMatchday 44/11Benfica-MonacoMatchday 69/12Benfica-Leverkusen
Matchday 21/10Arsenal-GalatasarayMatchday 44/11Arsenal-AnderlechtMatchday 69/12Galatasaray-Arsenal
Matchday 21/10Anderlecht-DortmundMatchday 44/11Dortmund-GalatasarayMatchday 69/12Dortmund-Anderlecht
Fixture List Groups E-F
Matchday 117/9Roma-MoscowMatchday 321/10Moscow-CityMatchday 525/11Moscow-Roma
Matchday 117/9Bayern-Man CityMatchday 321/10Roma-BayernMatchday 525/11City-Bayern
Matchday 117/9Barcelona-APOELMatchday 321/10APOEL-PSGMatchday 525/11APOEL-Barcelona
Matchday 117/9Ajax-PSGMatchday 321/10Barcelona-AjaxMatchday 525/11PSG-Ajax
Matchday 117/9Chelsea-SchalkeMatchday 321/10Schalke-SportingMatchday 525/11Schalke-Chelsea
Matchday 117/9Maribor-SportingMatchday 321/10Chelsea-MariborMatchday 525/11Sporting-Maribor
Matchday 117/9Porto-BATEMatchday 321/10BATE-ShakhtarMatchday 525/11BATE-Porto
Matchday 117/9Athletic-ShakhtarMatchday 321/10Porto-AthleticMatchday 525/11Shakhtar-Athletic
Matchday 230/9City-RomaMatchday 45/11City-MoscowMatchday 610/12Roma-City
Matchday 230/9Moscow-BayernMatchday 45/11Bayern-RomaMatchday 610/12Bayern-Moscow
Matchday 230/9PSG-BarcelonaMatchday 45/11PSG-APOELMatchday 610/12Barcelona-PSG
Matchday 230/9APOEL-AjaxMatchday 45/11Ajax-BarcelonaMatchday 610/12Ajax-APOEL
Matchday 230/9Sporting-ChelseaMatchday 45/11Sporting-SchalkeMatchday 610/12Chelsea-Sporting
Matchday 230/9Schalke-MariborMatchday 45/11Maribor-ChelseaMatchday 610/12Maribor-Schalke
Matchday 230/9Shakhtar-PortoMatchday 45/11Shakhtar-BATEMatchday 610/12Porto-Shakhtar
Matchday 230/9BATE-AthleticMatchday 45/11Athletic-PortoMatchday 610/12Athletic-Bate


The Champions League: Anyone’s Trophy

This year’s Champions League is a little different than normal campaigns. Usually, you can pick the winner from day one; Real Madrid’s triumph was callable at the start of last year. However, the strongest field in the competition’s history means that the famous trophy’s destination is impossible to predict this time around.

The group-stage draw gave us an idea of who would be making the last 16, but in a competition decorated with exciting talent, you just never know.

Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea all come into the competition on an even playing field, and each and every one of them will fancy their chances of going all the way.

Particularly the Premier League’s finest, who were all handed a reasonable draw on Thursday, as BBC Sport’s Ben Smith reported:

England have surrendered their football dominance to the Spanish and the Germans over recent seasons, but with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all likely to emerge through the group stage, the English will fancy their chances of taking it back.

The likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid will once again be sniffing around for glory, but any tie in the last 16 for either side doesn’t automatically mean quarter-final progression.

We saw what Atletico Madrid could do to their city rivals over two legs in the recent Supercopa, and Bayern aren’t quite a team of immortals.

No matter who lifts the trophy in Berlin in June 2015, it’s safe to say that it’s going to be a roller-coaster ride getting there.


Mouth-Watering Opening Fixtures

The first Champions League matchweek gets underway on September 16, and the competition rushes headlong into big fixtures, with some electric ties taking place across the first two weeks.

Here’s a look at the pick of the action:

Champions League 2014/15: Notable Opening Fixtures
Tuesday, September 16Borussia Dortmund vs. Arsenal
Tuesday, September 16Liverpool vs. Ludogorets
Wednesday, September 17Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City
Wednesday, September 17Chelsea vs. Schalke
Wednesday, September 17Athletic Bilbao vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Tuesday, September 30Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Wednesday, October 1Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus


Tie of Matchweek 1: Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City

On September 17, two of the biggest clubs in world football will face off at the Allianz Arena, as Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich welcome Premier League champions Manchester City.

The pair were drawn together in last year’s Champions League group stage, and the reverse of this fixture kicked off their respective campaigns at the Etihad.

However, that time around, City were taught a free lesson in how to play football, as the German outfit simply terrorised them from start to finish, winning 3-1.

Bayern will be determined to start their campaign in a similar vein, but City head into this season’s competition in a stronger position than ever to mount a charge for the trophy.

Their 3-2 victory at the Allianz Arena last season, despite the group places being tied up, will also bring them confidence, and former Manchester United star Paul Scholes believes that they have the squad to go all the way, per Paul Scholes of the London Evening Standard:

They do not just want to be champions of England; this is a squad built to win the Champions League, too. ... So far, they have never got close in the Champions League and this is the year that they have to make the step. They have to show that they can win the league and in Europe, too.

To land the trophy, you have to beat the best in the business, and they don’t come much bigger than Bayern Munich.

Starting with the hardest encounter that the tournament can throw at you is ideal in some ways, and don’t be surprised if City find their way to victory in Munich once again. Anything can happen in the Champions League.


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