The UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw has concluded and you are either relieved or stressed as a soccer fan depending on where your team has been drawn.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 27, 2015
This is the Champions League draw. As you can see, there are some pretty tough groups and some rather easy groups. We’re here to dissect each group from most to least difficult.
Group D: Juventus, Manchester City, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach
It’s late August, so that means another year in which Manchester City is drawn into the “Group of Death.” It’s so common, it’s become a yearly tradition. Heck, we even tried to predict which “Group of Death” Manchester City would be in. While Manchester City doesn’t get the pleasure of facing Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow like the last two years, but they get the Serie A champions and Europa League champions to take their place.
Group A: PSG, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo
Let’s face it, because of the new rules that say only champions can be in Pot 1, anyone who was getting Real Madrid was going to be put in a tough group. Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk were top teams in their respective pots due to UEFA coefficient and it’s going to be tough to win in Ukraine and Sweden. It’ll definitely be a grind to get points, even for Real Madrid.
Group F: Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb
While it may appear as if Bayern Munich and Arsenal should be able to coast their way through, Olympiacos proved last season that they can get wins against better competition and prove to be a possible spoiler. Olympiacos beat Atletico Madrid and Juventus last year, they can do it again against Bayern Munich and Arsenal.
Group C: Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Galatasaray and Astana
Astana is the key for the difficulty of this group. I didn’t track who has to travel the farthest in the Group Stage but I’m confident to say it’s probably Benfica and Astana, which is an 11 hour flight and a little under 7,400 mile, 77 hour straight drive. That is a freaking long trip and sure to add to the difficulty of playing in Kazakhstan.
Group E: Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov
Now we’re getting into some of the more easier groups. In Group E, Barcelona is sure to advance rather easily but it’ll be an entertaining fight for the runner up spot between Bayer Leverkusen and Roma.
Group G: Chelsea, Porto, Dinamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv
Maccabi Tel Aviv is going to be a long trip, similar to Astana, but it shouldn’t affect Chelsea and Porto to easily advance to the Round of 16.
Group B: PSV, Manchester United, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg
Although Manchester United was in Pot 2, they got rewarded with arguably the weakest Pot 1 team. Manchester United should be able to coast through the group but PSV, Moscow and Wolfsburg will be able to make a run for 2nd.
Group H: Zenit, Valencia, Lyon and Gent
I put this group as least difficult because I would have to imagine any top team would have killed to be in this group. Having said that, while this group is least difficult, this group is bound to be entertaining because any of these teams can advance to the Knockout Round. And given that neither of these teams really get into the Knockout Rounds all that often, we’re going to see a couple new faces in the Round of 16.