A dream for United but a nightmare for Spurs – Winners & Losers from the Champions League draw | Soccer


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The draw for the group stage of the 2017-18 Champions League has thrown up some fascinating fixtures, eagerly-awaited reunions and intriguing rematches.

However, some sides will be far happier than others after Thursday’s ceremony in Monaco. Below, Goal runs through the winners and losers from the draw…

Group A Group B Group C Group D Group E Group F Group G Group H
Benfica Bayern Munich Chelsea Juventus Spartak Moscow Shakhtar Donetsk Monaco Real Madrid
Manchester United Paris Saint-Germain Atletico Madrid Barcelona Sevilla Manchester City Porto Borussia Dortmund
Basel Anderlecht Roma Olympiacos Liverpool Napoli Besiktas Tottenham
CSKA Moscow Celtic Qarabag Sporting Maribor Feyenoord RB Leipzig APOEL

WINNERS: MANCHESTER UNITED

Memories of a rare group-stage failure under Sir Alex Ferguson are prominent for Manchester United after being again drawn alongside Benfica and Basel, while CSKA Moscow were an ally when the Reds fell at the same hurdle two years ago.

That said, this is about as good a draw as United could have hand-selected and they should have little trouble negotiating their way into the post-Christmas knockout rounds. Jose Mourinho will be tremendously confident that his side have what it takes to finish top of the group, and anything less will surely be seen as a missed opportunity.

Kris Voakes, Manchester United correspondent

WINNERS: LIVERPOOL

Sadio Mane Liverpool

As third seeds, Liverpool could easily have been landed in the proverbial group of death. Instead, the returning Reds’ hopes of reaching the knockout stage for the first time since 2009 are very much alive after a draw that pitted them against Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Maribor.

Jurgen Klopp does not need to be told anything about the threat posed by Sevilla, who swept Liverpool aside during a stirring second-half showing in the 2016 Europa League final, and a Spartak side that last season ended a 16-year Russian title drought is not to be taken lightly.

However, while the Merseysiders remain worryingly weak at the back, in Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, they now have the requisite firepower to atone for a dismal group-stage exit in 2014.

Mark Doyle, Deputy Features Editor

WINNERS: MANCHESTER CITY

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

On a day that started with yet another away draw to a Premier League side in a domestic cup competition, sparking more grumblings of dodgy goings-on among fans, Manchester City ended up with a very appealing Champions League group.

Shakhtar Donetsk, Feyenoord and especially Napoli are solid European sides and City will not be taking anything for granted, especially given their teething problems under Pep Guardiola so far, but on the other hand they will certainly expect to get out of that group, and indeed will rightfully be expected to win it.

Napoli, though having come from pot three, will be particularly tough adversaries, particularly in Italy, but having avoided top-tier sides like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, this can certainly be regarded as a good draw for City.

Sam Lee, Manchester City correspondent

WINNERS: MONACO

Kylian Mbappe Monaco 2017

Kylian Mbappe was key to Monaco’s thrilling run to the semi-finals of last year’s competition, so the increasing likelihood of the teenage striking sensation joining Paris Saint-Germain before September 1 would obviously damage their prospects of emulating that remarkable achievement.

However, Leonardo Jardim’s side, who have begun their Ligue 1 title defence with three consecutive victories, should still have little trouble reaching the knockout stage again this season, having been bracketed with Porto, Besiktas and RB Leipzig.

Indeed, while it is a nicely balanced group, with no particularly weak link, it is one that Monaco should win.

Mark Doyle, Deputy Features Editor

LOSERS: TOTTENHAM

Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham

Tottenham have arguably been the best footballing side in England for the past two seasons yet they have failed dismally to take their fine form with them on their European travels. Even last season, they botched what looked like a winnable group and fell into the Europa League.

As a result, one fears for the north Londoners after they were drawn in the same group as reigning champions Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, a side that took Tottenham apart in the Europa League just over 12 months ago.

Furthermore, given Spurs’ struggles at their adopted home, a Wembley outing is more likely to bring the best out of the visitors than Mauricio Pochettino’s men.

Mark Doyle, Deputy Features Editor

LOSERS: CHELSEA

Antonio Conte Chelsea

Antonio Conte’s pleas for further signings before the transfer window closes are only going to get louder, with his Chelsea side having been handed what promises to be a fierce three-way battle for two qualification spots in Group C. Even the away trip to Qarabag will test the strength of his squad, given it is likely to entail more than 10 hours of travel.

Of course, Atletico Madrid, finalists in 2014 and 2016, will provide Chelsea with a stern examination of their title credentials and the Diego Costa transfer saga will add spice to an already potentially explosive encounter but Conte will be just as wary of Roma, given their success is based upon the dynamism of Radja Nainggolan, a player he has long coveted.

Nizaar Kinsella, Chelsea Correspondent

LOSERS: CELTIC

Brendan Rodgers Celtic

Brendan Rodgers stated before the draw that Celtic’s aim is to still be playing European football after Christmas. That now looks an arduous assignment, with Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Anderlecht standing between the Scottish champions and a place in the knockout stage.

Indeed, even claiming a Europa League berth by finishing third will be tricky, given Anderlecht took eventual champions Manchester United all the way to extra time in the quarter-finals of last season’s tournament.

As ever, Celtic Park will be a testing environment for even top-class sides like Bayern and PSG, but it is hard to see the Glaswegians picking up many points with a defence that conceded four times in the second leg of their play-off clash with Astana.

Mark Doyle, Deputy Features Editor



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