Champions League Draw 2014: Group Stage Schedule and Early Predictions

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Champions League Draw 2014: Group Stage Schedule and Early Predictions
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

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 A Group B Group C Group D
Atletico Madrid Real Madrid Benfica Arsenal
Juventus FC Basel Zenit Borussia Dortmund
Olympiacos Liverpool Bayer Leverkusen Galatasaray
Malmo Ludogorets AS Monaco Anderlecht
Group E Group F Group G Group H
Bayern Munich Barcelona Chelsea FC Porto
Manchester City Paris Saint-Germain Schalke 04 Shakhtar
CSKA Moscow Ajax Sporting Club Athletic Bilbao
Roma APOEL Maribor BATE 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 Date Match Matchday Date Match Matchday Date Match
Matchday 1 16/9 Olympiacos-Atletico Matchday 3 22/10 Atletico-Malmo Matchday 5 26/11 Atletico-Olympiacos
Matchday 1 16/9 Juventus-Malmo Matchday 3 22/10 Olympiacos-Juventus Matchday 5 26/11 Malmo-Juventus
Matchday 1 16/9 Liverpool-Ludogorets Matchday 3 22/10 Ludogorets-Basel Matchday 5 26/11 Ludogorets-Liverpool
Matchday 1 16/9 Real-Basel Matchday 3 22/10 Liverpool-Real Matchday 5 26/11 Basel-Real
Matchday 1 16/9 Monaco-Leverkusen Matchday 3 22/10 Leverkusen-Zenit Matchday 5 26/11 Leverkusen-Monaco
Matchday 1 16/9 Benfica-Zenit Matchday 3 22/10 Monaco-Benfica Matchday 5 26/11 Zenit-Benfica
Matchday 1 16/9 Galatasaray-Anderlecht Matchday 3 22/10 Anderlecht-Arsenal Matchday 5 26/11 Anderlecht-Galatasaray
Matchday 1 16/9 Dortmund-Arsenal Matchday 3 22/10 Galatasaray-Dortmund Matchday 5 26/11 Arsenal-Dortmund
Matchday 2 1/10 Malmo-Olympiacos Matchday 4 4/11 Malmo-Atletico Matchday 6 9/12 Olympiacos-Malmo
Matchday 2 1/10 Atletico-Juventus Matchday 4 4/11 Juventus-Olympiacos Matchday 6 9/12 Juventus-Atletico
Matchday 2 1/10 Basel-Liverpool Matchday 4 4/11 Basel-Ludogorets Matchday 6 9/12 Liverpool-Basel
Matchday 2 1/10 Ludogorets-Real Matchday 4 4/11 Real-Liverpool Matchday 6 9/12 Real-Ludogorets
Matchday 2 1/10 Zenit-Monaco Matchday 4 4/11 Zenit-Leverkusen Matchday 6 9/12 Monaco-Zenit
Matchday 2 1/10 Leverkusen-Benfica Matchday 4 4/11 Benfica-Monaco Matchday 6 9/12 Benfica-Leverkusen
Matchday 2 1/10 Arsenal-Galatasaray Matchday 4 4/11 Arsenal-Anderlecht Matchday 6 9/12 Galatasaray-Arsenal
Matchday 2 1/10 Anderlecht-Dortmund Matchday 4 4/11 Dortmund-Galatasaray Matchday 6 9/12 Dortmund-Anderlecht

Fixture List Groups E-F
Matchday Date Match Matchday Date Match Matchday Date Match
Matchday 1 17/9 Roma-Moscow Matchday 3 21/10 Moscow-City Matchday 5 25/11 Moscow-Roma
Matchday 1 17/9 Bayern-Man City Matchday 3 21/10 Roma-Bayern Matchday 5 25/11 City-Bayern
Matchday 1 17/9 Barcelona-APOEL Matchday 3 21/10 APOEL-PSG Matchday 5 25/11 APOEL-Barcelona
Matchday 1 17/9 Ajax-PSG Matchday 3 21/10 Barcelona-Ajax Matchday 5 25/11 PSG-Ajax
Matchday 1 17/9 Chelsea-Schalke Matchday 3 21/10 Schalke-Sporting Matchday 5 25/11 Schalke-Chelsea
Matchday 1 17/9 Maribor-Sporting Matchday 3 21/10 Chelsea-Maribor Matchday 5 25/11 Sporting-Maribor
Matchday 1 17/9 Porto-BATE Matchday 3 21/10 BATE-Shakhtar Matchday 5 25/11 BATE-Porto
Matchday 1 17/9 Athletic-Shakhtar Matchday 3 21/10 Porto-Athletic Matchday 5 25/11 Shakhtar-Athletic
Matchday 2 30/9 City-Roma Matchday 4 5/11 City-Moscow Matchday 6 10/12 Roma-City
Matchday 2 30/9 Moscow-Bayern Matchday 4 5/11 Bayern-Roma Matchday 6 10/12 Bayern-Moscow
Matchday 2 30/9 PSG-Barcelona Matchday 4 5/11 PSG-APOEL Matchday 6 10/12 Barcelona-PSG
Matchday 2 30/9 APOEL-Ajax Matchday 4 5/11 Ajax-Barcelona Matchday 6 10/12 Ajax-APOEL
Matchday 2 30/9 Sporting-Chelsea Matchday 4 5/11 Sporting-Schalke Matchday 6 10/12 Chelsea-Sporting
Matchday 2 30/9 Schalke-Maribor Matchday 4 5/11 Maribor-Chelsea Matchday 6 10/12 Maribor-Schalke
Matchday 2 30/9 Shakhtar-Porto Matchday 4 5/11 Shakhtar-BATE Matchday 6 10/12 Porto-Shakhtar
Matchday 2 30/9 BATE-Athletic Matchday 4 5/11 Athletic-Porto Matchday 6 10/12 Athletic-Bate

The Champions League: Anyone’s Trophy

Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

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.

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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.

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

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

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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
Date Matchup
Tuesday, September 16 Borussia Dortmund vs. Arsenal
Tuesday, September 16 Liverpool vs. Ludogorets
Wednesday, September 17 Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City
Wednesday, September 17 Chelsea vs. Schalke
Wednesday, September 17 Athletic Bilbao vs. Shakhtar Donetsk
Tuesday, September 30 Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Wednesday, October 1 Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus

Tie of Matchweek 1: Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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.

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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.

Ian Walton/Getty Images

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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