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Champions League

August 25, 2011

The three German clubs playing in the Champions League all face very different challenges after UEFA held the official draw for the group stage of the tournament.

Allianz Arena
The final will be played at Allianz ArenaImage: picture-alliance/M.i.S.-Sportpressefoto

Europe's top clubs learnt their Champions League fates Thursday night after European football's governing body, UEFA, held the official draw for the competition's lucrative group stages.

The three German representatives in the tournament - Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund - were all dealt competitive groups, from which the top two teams will progress to the round of 16.

Last year's Bundesliga champions Dortmund, who dazzled crowds with their speedy and technically proficient style of play, will feel happy with their draw in Group F. They face attractive, yet beatable opponents in the shape of a somewhat weakened Arsenal side, French runners-up Marseille and Greek champions Olympiakos.

Bayern were pooled in a tough-looking Group A alongside Villarreal, which finished fourth in Spain last season, as well as big-spending English team Manchester City and Italians Napoli, who ended last year in third place in Serie A.

Bayern's Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer
Bayern's stars will need to shine in the group stagesImage: dapd

Leverkusen, meanwhile, come up against English giants Chelsea, Spain's third-placed team Valencia and Belgian Pro League runners-up Genk in Group E.

The task ahead

With the exception of a handful of Europe's most elite clubs, this stage of the Champions League presents a challenge of immense proportions for any team wishing to progress in the tournament.

Bayern were fortunate to be seeded in Pot 1 prior to the group stage draw, meaning they were always destined to avoid a matchup with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester United. They will, however, face a significant challenge from United's cross-town rivals, City, after coach Roberto Mancini made several strong off-season signings, including Arsenal's Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid.

Jürgen Klopp
Klopp will have to manage his squad well to get them through the upcoming seasonImage: dapd

Dortmund, perhaps, were dealt the most favorable group and should be confident coming up against their French and Greek opponents. If coach Jürgen Klopp can manage his squad effectively across both the Bundesliga and Champions League then Dortmund may even manage to take top spot from the group's top seeds Arsenal, who have lost Nasri as well as captain Cesc Fabregas to defending European champions Barcelona.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, may struggle to make it out of the group stages and can expect a tough time away and at home to both Chelsea and Valencia, but should be able to manage favorable results against Genk.

In other groups, Manchester United will play Benfica, FC Basel and Romanians FC Otelul Galati; Real Madrid face Olympique Lyon, Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb; whilst Barcelona come up against AC Milan, BATE Borisov from Bulgaria and Czechs Viktoria Plzen.

The top two teams from each group move to the round of 16 in Europe's top tournament, whilst third-placed teams drop down to the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

The final of the Champions League will be played at Bayern's home stadium, Allianz Arena, on May 19 next year.

Author: Darren Mara
Editor: Rob Turner