Ranking the tough UCL draws for Premier League clubs

AP Photo/Rui Vieira

All the Premier League clubs will tell you they like their chances of advancing to the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds following Thursday’s group stage draws.

[ MORE: Full UCL draw ]

Only one should be feel confident it can top theirs.

Manchester City faces solid clubs — this is the UCL, after all — but can look at its Premier League peers and exhale in relief at the dodged challenges.

4) Man City will face Shakhtar Donetsk, the only team to beat them in the group stage last season albeit in a meaningless game. Hoffenheim and Lyon are good teams from power leagues, but no more of a challenge than last season’s Napoli-Feyenoord group.

3) Manchester United will need to get past either Juventus or Valencia to get to the knockout rounds, which isn’t to say Young Boys are going to let the Red Devils waltz through Switzerland. Valencia brings the threats of Michy Batshuayi and Denis Cheryshev, as well as familiar names Francis Coquelin, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Goncalo Guedes. And Juve’s threat is well-known. The Old Lady will be just as fired up for Paul Pogba‘s return as Old Trafford is to renew acquaintances with Cristiano Ronaldo.

1b) Tottenham Hotspur sits just behind Liverpool for the toughest group. First off, there’s Barcelona. That requires no explanation, as Lionel Messi and pals are deep at every position. Spurs also drew the most difficult Pot 4 option in Inter Milan, though drawing a young PSV Eindhoven slots them second.

1a) Liverpool’s task stands tall, and it will surely hope to get some benefits from the fixture makers. The Reds have to visit Red Star Belgrade in Serbia in addition to getting past either Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli. Holy smoke.