Manchester City could be headed for their third consecutive ‘Group of Death’ in the UEFA Champions League as the club’s seed in pot three means they could find themselves drawn with European champions Bayern Munich, Italian champions Juventus and big-spending Napoli.
The drawing is set to take place today in Monaco at 11:00 am ET and can be watched live on the official UEFA Champions League website.
Two seasons ago the Citizens were drawn into a ‘Group of Death’ that included Bayern Munich, Napoli and Villarreal. Last season it was déjà vu as the Roberto Mancini run squad were placed into a pool containing three domestic champions – Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax. On both occasions, City failed to advance to the knockout stage.
The past failures prompted Yaya Toure to claim that City’s European education needs to continue. After naming Munich, Dortmund, Barcelona and Madrid as major threats to claim this year’s UCL title, Toure discussed his side’s outlook. “Manchester United has a strong team. Us too, but we still need to learn in Europe,” he added. “But it is our third participation. I hope everything works out and we can get as far as possible.”
A more favorable draw for Manuel Pellegrini’s men would pair them with Porto or Benfica, the two less fearsome sides in pot one. Other potential pot one opponents for City are Barcelona and Madrid, as rules prevent the Citizens from being paired with United, Chelsea and Arsenal.
While no team can face another club from the same country in the group stage, the English clubs could still be drawn against Scottish champions Celtic, who came through UCL qualifying by overturning a 2-0 first leg deficit to defeat Shakhter Karagandy with three goals at Celtic Park on Wednesday night. The Glasgow side have been placed into pot four along with FC Copenhagen, Napoli, Anderlecht, Steaua Bucharest, Viktoria Plzen, Real Sociedad and Austria Vienna.
Pot two is an interesting collection of sides that includes potential title contenders Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, seven time European/Champions League winners AC Milan, perennial European dark-horse Shakhtar Donetsk, a tricky Atletico Madrid and a trio of teams that could be ripe for the picking in Schalke, Marseille and CSKA Moscow.
Joining City, Dortmund and Ajax in pot three is Russian giant Zenit St Petersburg as well as Basel, Olympiacos, Galatasaray and Bayer Leverkusen.
Pot 1: FC Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester Utd, Arsenal, Porto, Benfica
Pot 2: Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan, Schalke, Marseille, CSKA Moscow, PSG, Juventus
Pot 3: Zenit, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund, Basel, Olympiakos, Galatasaray, Bayer Leverkusen
Pot 4: FC Copenhagen, Napoli, Anderlecht, Celtic, Steaua Bucharest, Pizen, Real Sociedad, Austria Vienna