Spain’s footballers are no longer on strike after a deal was agreed earlier today between the players’ union and league. The industrial action concluded thanks to the league guaranteeing the €50m owed to over 200 players and that a fund has been set up for future financial problems. Unfortunately, the break wasn’t around for it to obtain a nickname or be called a lockout.
Today also saw the Champions League group stage draw that all of Europe’s biggest clubs have been waiting for. It’s one of those occasions that is so drawn out that you start to worry whether the former footballer will have gone grey by the end of it.
As far as the English Premier League representatives go, Man City have by far the hardest task. Their first sojourn into the Champions League gives them trips to Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli with manager Roberto Mancini probably wondering what he did wrong. Cross-city rivals and last season’s beaten finalists Man Utd have by far the easiest of tasks amongst the English teams and will relish short trips to Benfica and Basel, and the competition’s newest team Otelul Galati Chelsea’s new signing Juan Mata has an early chance to return to his homeland with a trip to Valencia as well as Bayer Leverkusen and Belgian side KRC Genk. Arsenal also have a fairly straightforward task with only Dortmund to worry about in a group that also contains Marseille and Olympiacos.
Holders Barcelona face AC Milan but apart from that they only have BATE Borisov and Viktoria Plzen between them and a trip to the knockout stages. They will still be overwhelming favorites and have added Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez to an already stellar line-up. The full draw is as follows:
Zenit St Petersburg