MONACO — The beautiful riviera town that UEFA calls home hosted the 2012/13 Champions League Draw on August 30th, in front of a crowd of players, journalists, managers and owners. The completely random draw was designed to prevent the top eight teams from facing one another in group stage, which is supposed to create a more even playing field leading up to the round of sixteen.
The formation of the draw selected one team from each of four pots, which separated teams by their UEFA club coefficients. Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, FC Porto and AC Milan were all named into Pot One. This prohibits them from facing one another in the group stage. Pot 1 teams were selected at random and assigned, also randomly into Pots A through H.
Several former European Footballers of the Year were on hand to help deliver the results of the draw, including George Weah of Liberia. See below for the results of the group stage draw:
Group A: Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Paris St-Germain, Dinamo Zagreb
Group B: Arsenal, Schalke, Olympiakos, Montpellier
Group C: Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga
Group D: Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund
Group E: Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, Nordsjaelland
Group F: Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, Bate Borisov
Group G: Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic
Group H: Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, Cluj
The draw should highlight several areas of concern or ease for certain teams. Notably, Group D (which stands for Death, of course) features all domestic league title holders from last season, in order of UEFA club coefficient, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund. This group will be tough for every team, but at least they each enter off a league title which can only add to their confidence.
Another area worth highlighting is Group H where Manchester United sit as clear favorites to advance into the next round after not qualifying from last year’s group stage. Their road should be one of the easiest of the bunch, but by no means easy. This time around, the Red Devils have their own pride to play for, especially after losing the Premier League title in the final hour of last season.
Lastly, we note that Paris Saint-Germain is seed third in Group A, where they have a real chance at qualifying with their stacked roster fresh from summer transfers. Though struggling to find their footing in the French Ligue 1 so far, they have the talent and experience that is sure to kick on when the big games come. FC Porto and Dynamo Kyiv are seeded one and two respectively, and Dinamo Zagreb rounds out the playing field.
And finally we can get to the coveted UEFA European Footballer of the Year award. The award was determined by a poll of European football journalists with the top three finalists announced and re-tallied live at the event. Other players receiving votes included Andrea Pirlo, Xavi Hernandez and Iker Casillas.
The three players were interviewed about their seasons, both their personal performance and their respective teams. With EURO 2012 being the big international tournament of the year, Iniesta and Ronaldo both reflected on their impact on their national team. Though Leo Messi put away 50 goals in all club matches, it seemed to be the international resume that put Andres Iniesta above Ronaldo and Messi. With his contribution, Spain was able to win their second consecutive EURO Championship, sandwiching their 2010 World Cup win.
After watching his play during the EURO 2012 Final, it was no surprise that his achievements, both for his club and national team, were worthy of this prestigious award. With the world of football fans everywhere watching, the teams were set for the 2012/13 UEFA Champion’s League season and Andres Iniesta was crowned best European Footballer for last year.
Keep watch for our weekly coverage on the upcoming group stage match dates:
October: 2/3; 23/24
November: 6/7; 20/21