Former Arsenal striker Eduardo will go up against his old club
The Champions League draw took place in Monaco and this is what it looks like:
Group A: Inter, Werder Bremen, Tottenham Hotspur, FC Twente
Group B: Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv
Group C: Manchester United , Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor
Group D: Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Copenhagen, FC Rubin Kazan
Group E: Bayern Munich, Roma, FC Basel, CFR Cluj
Group F: Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina
Group G: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre
Group H: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, SC Braga, FK Partizan
The Group of Death is definitely Group G which pits AC Milan in a rematch with Real with Dutch runners up Ajax and French Ligue third placed Auxerre providing non-dismissible competition. Ronaldinho’s return to the Bernabeu resulted in a triumphant win last season so Milan is capable of overshadowing the most titled CL club. Jose Mourinho must be relishing the prospect of going up against his long time Serie rival.
Barcelona and Bayern on the other hand should see smooth sailing.
Lyon might be in a dogfight with Benfica and Schalke. French playmaker Yoann Gourcuff has ditched Bordeaux for their league rivals and Benfica has lost Angel Di Maria but it still retains its creative nucleus of Pablo Aimar, Javier Saviola, and Javi Garcia. Big scoring Oscar Cardozo is still there and arguably the best left back thrown up in the World Cup in Fábio Coentrão. Schalke will feature Jermaine Jones who turned down the chance to play for the USMNT to focus on the Bundesliga. They also have the best goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer and Real Madrid legend Raul.
Man Utd have a pretty easy draw- they meet a weakened Valencia without David Villa and David Silva. No long trips – the furthest they have to travel is Turkey. The club that may give them the most headaches off the pitch maybe Rangers with a history of bad blood between the two clubs.
Chelsea also should get through easily. Their only competition will be Marseille which has not got off to the best start in the Ligue with lead striker Mamadou Niang having departed for Fenerbahçe. They were given a further scare when Loic Remy was diagnosed with a previously undetected heart defect. Subsequent medical testing cleared the former Nice striker to resume his playing career.
Spurs are in a tough group – they meet defending champions Inter who might have lost Mario Balotelli but gained more equanimity without the temperamental striker.They still have Diego Milito and Wesley Sneijder and that stellar back line. Rafa Benitez will still be smarting from the Spurs loss that set the tone for their fading season. No doubt he will fancy himself against Harry Redknapp this time. Werder without Mesut Oezil might lack a playmaker but they are still a tough team proving their mettle against a good Sampdoria side. FC Twente are the Dutch champions with very good defensive instincts.
Arsenal’s toughest opponents will be Eduardo’s new club Shakhtar Donetsk. This will be an emotional reunion for the former Arsenal striker and his old club – he won a number of fans with his commendable return after that horrific injury. Alas, he was never quite the same. But the Brazilian born Eduardo seems to have comeback to his old goalscoring form with two goals in three appearances for Shakhtar.
Eduardo’s new team mates include fellow Brazilians Luis Adriano and Jadson who scored against Werder Bremen in the 2009 UEFA Cup final. Douglas Costa, the highly rated prospect from Gremio who was courted by Man Utd keeps the Ukrainian side humming. Recent Barca inductee Dmytro Chygrynskiy is back to anchor the back line.
The Gunners face Shakhtar on 19th October in a tricky period in the Premiership. On 16th they play a physical Birmingham side at home who they proved a thorn in recent encounters. After their CL first leg they lock horns with favourites Man City on the 24th in the Eastlands.
The away second leg on 3rd November is sandwiched between West Ham and Newcastle which may make for less impressive opposition but with a long journey there could be an element of heavy legs.
Arsenal’s brush with Brazilians continues against Braga who shocked Sevilla with Rodrigo Lima scoring a hattrick. Seven of their starters are Brazilian. The Portugese club also managed to vanquish Celtic in the playoff stages – so they are no pushovers.
In the tricky fixture list – the return leg away to Braga is on the 23rd November and it is between fixtures against Spurs at the Emirates on the 21st and then against Villa away on the 27th. Which will make for one physically and mentally intense week.
The Samba flavoured theme continues against FC Partizan who felled favoured Anderlecht through their in form Brazilian striker, Cleo who scored twice to force penalties which the Serbian team won, 3-2 to enter their first CL group stage in seven years.