Champions League Draw: English Sides Avoid Real Madrid & Inter Milan
England's quartet of Champions League contenders Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were all braced for an encounter with Cristiano Ronaldo's Real Madrid.
Big-spending Real, who this summer signed Ronaldo along with Kaka, Xabi Alonso, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol, were in the second group of seeds, meaning they could be drawn alongside any of the English sides.
The 32 teams were split into four pots, based on their UEFA coefficient, with one team from every pot going into each of the eight groups. As always, two teams from the same country could not draw each other, so necessary steps were taken to conveniently avoid that.
Pot 1: Barcelona, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, AC Milan & Sevilla.
Pot 2: Real Madrid, Internazionale, Porto, Lyon, Juventus, Glasgow Rangers, AZ Alkmaar & CSKA Moscow.
Pot 3: Atletico Madrid, Fiorentina, Dynamo Kiev, Stuttgart, Olympiacos, Bordeaux, Besiktas & Marseille.
Pot 4: Rubin Kazan, Apoel Nicosia, Wolfsburg, FC Zurich, Maccabi Haifa, Standard Liege, Debrecen & Unirea Urziceni.
The big question of the day was, of course, where Real Madrid would end up. The top seeds were also looking to avoid Internazionale & Juventus.
Here is how it turned out:
So Real Madrid's star-studded Galactico will face AC Milan & Ronaldinho. Jose Mourinho's love/hate affair with Barcelona goes on as he faces the Catalans with Internazionale.
Of the English sides, Chelsea seems to have the toughest group with Atletico Madrid & Porto along with debutantes Apoel Nicosia in Group D.
Arsenal seemingly got the easiest group with relatively "banana-skin" type trips to Holland, Greece & Belgium.
Both Manchester United & Liverpool are expected to top their respective groups, but could face one or two awkward obstacles on the way. United faces trips to Moscow and Istanbul, while Liverpool face a talented Fiorentina side and French masters Lyon as well as debutantes Debrecen.
So there you have it. Another season of top draw European football is all set to go. Any bets on Chelsea & Liverpool facing each other somewhere along the line?
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