The draw for the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League was released Thursday night with some intriguing fixtures lined up at the group stage level.
Defending champions, Real Madrid, have been drawn in Group B alongside five-time champions Liverpool, Swiss side FC Basel and Bulgarian side Ludogorets. Madrid and Liverpool will be favorites to emerge from that group but Basel who have gone beyond the group stage only once in their history could be the dark horses. Liverpool have never lost in European competition to any of their Group B opponents and the 5-0 aggregate win over Real Madrid in the Reds’ last appearance in the Champions League will still be fresh in the fans’ memories.
Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich landed in what is arguably the group of Death after being drawn against Manchester City, Russia champions CSKA Moscow and Serie A side AS Roma in Group E. This will be the third time in four seasons that Pep Guaridola’s men will play the Premier League champions at this stage of the competition. Bayern beat City 3-1 at Allianz Arena last season but City exacted revenge with a 3-2 win at the Eitihad.
Borussia Dortmund once again landed in the same group with Arsenal with the two teams expected to battle in Group D with Turksish side Galatasaray and Belgian champions Anderlecht the other members of the group.
Chelsea were drawn in a fairly easy group that will see them face Portuguese side Sporting Lisbon, Bundesliga outfit Schalke and Slovenian side Maribor in Group G. Last year’s beaten finalists, Atletico Madrid will be among the favorites to progress from Group A which also has Scuddeto winners Juventus and Greek side Olympiakos, and Swedish Malmo FF.
Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain will be the top favorites to emerge from Group F with Ajax and APOEL Nicosia the outsiders. Group C and H will be anyone’s take. Benfica, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco are in Group C with FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletico Bilbao and BATE Barisov in Group H.