At the end of the least interesting and most elongated, protracted, interminable, drawn out draw in the sporting universe the results were unsurprisingly positive for the English participants. The draw has managed to remove any chance of Europe’s richest clubs failing to make the last 16, almost as if UEFA forsook a random draw purely for commercial purposes, surely not though. Right? Right?! “Uh-oh, we’ve drawn Barcelona and AC Milan together – better chuck in the camp Belorussian mafiosos BATE Borisov and Czech supermodel Viktoria Plzen to make sure neither of them go out.”
Manchester United should qualify fairly comfortably, ties against Benfica, Basle and Otelul Galati hopefully proving little threat to the English Champions chances of progressing inexorably towards another mauling at the hands of Barcelona. Although the Champions of Romania should never be written off as Unirea Urziceni reminded us in massacring
the mighty Rangers at Ibrox a couple of years ago. Ill-informed chat about United always being drawn in easy group is profoundly false, Otelul Galati joining a pantheon of group stage heavyweight opponents that has previously included Bursaspor, Kosice, Besiktas, Brondby and the Queens’ XI: the mighty Glasgow Rangers.
Manchester City were handed the ‘toughest’ assignment drawn with Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli, but despite the inevitable clichéd talk of the ‘Group of Death’ the Manchester Mercenaries should still progress without too much drama. At least the fans – who’ve been there since before the money was, honest guv – will get to appreciate some Big European Nights™ at the Etihad Campus. Napoli were handled comfortably by European minnows Liverpool last season, Villarreal have been hawking their best players around Europe’s top clubs, and Malaga; and FC Hollywood always teeter on the verge of chaos, just a single defeat away from crisis: the German Arsenal.
Speaking of The Gunners, should they have enough
rats players left onboard to fulfil their participation in the competition, then qualification past Marseille and Olympiakos should be a stroll. Additionally, matches against Borussia Dortmund might actually provide some sparkle to the group stage, unlike the MONSTER, EPIC, BIGGEST GAMES EVER, GRAND SLAM EXTRAVAGANZA SUPER SHOWDOWNS EXCLUSIVELY LIVE ON SKY SPORTS between Barcelona and Milan – rendered meaningless by the presence of two also-rans in the group.
Chelsea? Don’t mind them just yet. They’re nailed on to cruise through the early stages before gracefully accepting – unless you’re Didier ‘Disgrace’ Drogba or ‘Brave’ John Terry or Michael ‘Medals’ Ballack – their routine elimination at the hands of one of Europe’s truly Big Clubs in March or April. See: Manchester United 2011, Internazionale 2010, Barcelona 2009, Manchester United 2008 and Liverp…well, for the last four years it’s been a routine anyway.
The ‘Champions’ League, don’t you just love it?