Champions League Draw 2011: Top Mouth-Watering Group Stage Clashes
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The curtains have been drawn on the group stage draw for this season's UEFA Champions League at Monaco.
The top 32 teams of Europe will now fight it out in the eight groups to secure their berth in the next round. While Barcelona and AC Milan comprises the "Group of Death", Manchester United have been handed an easy group as has been Internazionale. Andre Villas-Boas' rejuvenated Chelsea also have some tricky fixtures in their plate. New arrivals Manchester City have been handed a somewhat easier group though they are to face German giants Bayern Munich.
With the eight groups decided, it is speculation time for fans all over the world. In these slides we take a look into the most-awaited group stage matches. Do give your views on the results you expect or the group stage matches that you think to be important.
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City
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Roberto Mancini's multimillion squad have been in top form since the start of the new season. They have looked destructive to say the least and are seriously looking to be title contenders this season. With the arrival of the likes of Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri, the Citizens are sure to give the top clubs a run for their money. With Carlos Tevez looking set to stay, it might not be long before we see City turning into a giant-killer humbling top-notch clubs.
Bayern Munich have had a rough time last season, being eliminated from the group stages of the Champions League. They also performed poorly in the Bundesliga, which saw them end well behind champions Borussia Dortmund.
When the two teams, one created by splashing of millions of dollars and another a legendary club face each other, it will be a war of ideals. It might be a fire test for Mancini's squad when they take on the likes of Ribery and Robben alongwith youngsters Olic, Muller and Gomez.
All eyes will be on whether City are able to overcome Bayern or not. This will be City's chance to send out a threat to all top European clubs about their arrival, while for Bayern this will be their chance of redemption and prove as well that the German giants are back in business.
Either way the match goes, it will be a must-watch for football fans all over the world.
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund
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Wenger's dream of making a Barcelona look-a-like dream team with young talented players has ended dramatically. With Cesc joining his boyhood club and Nasri making a big money transfer to Premier League rivals Manchester City, the future looks bleak for the Gunners. Their cause has not been helped by the fact that they have delivered a dismal performance at the start of the new season. Wenger's crisis-stricken team has been handed a tough group with the likes of Borussia Dortmund and Marseille.
German champions Borussia Dortmund has had a splendid season behind them after eight long arduous years in the middle of the Bundesliga table. A previous European winner, Dortmund has looked to be in top form this season too. With the likes of Mario Gotze and Ivan Perisic in their first team, the Bundesliga giants will be the one to watch out for.
When the clubs face each other in the group stage opener on 13th September, it will be a match not to miss out on as young talents will fight off against each other to emerge victorious. All eyes will be on Wenger's boys and on whether they can overcome the in-form German giants.
Bets might be in favor of Arsenal, but I will bet on the German club to get the better of Arsenal.
Barcelona vs AC Milan
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When the defending champions take on a legendary club on the downfall, it has all the ingredients of a must-watch match.
Pep Guardiola's side has been the most successful club in recent times. Messi & Co. have displayed a style of football that no other clubs at present can think of. They have ruled the European football in style. These Barcelona team has already been declared as one of the best squads of all time. With the likes of Messi, Villa, Iniesta and Xavi, along with the newest addition of Fabregas, the Catalans are once again the favourites to land the trophy.
Italian champions AC Milan have rose from the ashes like a phoenix last season. After some dull seasons the Rossonneri have resurrected from their grave to be crowned Serie A champions. With the likes of Van Bommel, Pato, Robinho and Ibrahimovic, the seven-time winners of the competition may not be the outright favourites but still they cannot be ruled out.
When the reigning champions face a former champion, it promises to be a football lovers' ultimate treat of watching beautiful football. Though the Catalans are the favourites to win both the legs, it is not going to be an easy one as the Rossoneri are famed for their equally beautiful game.
Arsenal vs Marseille
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Arsenal will be facing off against French club Olympique Marseille in their clash of the so-called Group of Death.
With a weakened squad lacking depth and quality, Wenger will have his hands full as to how he handles Deschamps' boys. The Ligue 1 runners-up last season will be a tough opponent. With likes of Loic Remy and Anfre Ayew up front and the talented Fanni and Mbia guarding the back, it will be interesting to watch how the Gunners perform against the former European champions.
The match will be important in itself, as a loss for either team will toughen their chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals. Moreover, this will be sort of an acid test for Wenger's bunch of talented youngsters as well as for Deschamps' talented lads.
Arsenal are the favorites to win the faceoff, but if a crisis hits them like it does each season then the results may turn out to be otherwise.