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Champions League Draw Sees Barcelona Return For Guardiola; Europe’s Top 4 Leagues Guaranteed Four Group Stage Passes From 2018-19

TAGs: champions league, Lee Davy, uefa

UEFA change the rules to guarantee four Champions League Group Stage passes to Europe’s top four leagues. Champions League draw sees Pep Guardiola reunited with his old club Barcelona.

Champions League Draw Sees Barcelona Return For Guardiola; Europe’s Top 4 Leagues Guaranteed Four Group Stage Passes From 2018-19UEFA has granted four of Europe’s elite leagues four guaranteed places in the UEFA Champions League Group Stages starting 2018-19.

The new regime will see the Top 4 teams from Spain, England, Germany, and Italy qualify for the group stages automatically. Currently, only the Top 3 teams from Spain, England and Germany gain an automatic qualification, with the fourth placed team qualifying for the play-off round. The Italians have two guaranteed spots, with the third place team also qualifying for the two-legged play-off. The new system will also see the winners of the Europa League gain immediate qualification to the Champions League Group Stages.

The draw for the 2016-17 Champions League groups created some compelling stories the pick of which is a return to his old club Barcelona for Pep Guardiola. Visits to the German side with the longest name in world football and the Scottish champions Celtic make Group C one of the toughest.

Reigning champions Real Madrid will face a strong Dortmund side, and last year’s runner-up Atletico Madrid have a tough group facing the German champions Bayern Munich and Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven. Last year’s fairytale side Leicester City had a much kinder draw. Claudio Ranieri’s men have an excellent chance of making it to the knockout stages after being pooled with Porto, Club Brugge, and Kobenhavn.

UEFA Champions League Winners Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)

Barcelona +300

Bayern Munich +400

Real Madrid +500

Juventus +1000

Manchester City +1200

Champions League Draw in Full

Group A

Paris St Germain

Arsenal

Basel

Ludogorets

Group B

Benfica

Napoli

Dynamo Kyiv

Besiktas

Group C

Barcelona

Man City

Borussia Monchengladbach

Celtic

Group D

Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid

PSV Eindhoven

Rostov

Group E

CSKA Moscow

Bayer Leverkusen

Tottenham

Monaco

Group F

Real Madrid

Dortmund

Sporting Lisbon

Legia Warsaw

Group G

Leicester City

Porto

Club Brugge

Kobenhavn

Group H

Juventus

Sevilla

Lyon

Dinamo Zagreb

Manchester United Are Favourites For Europa League Title But Does Anyone Care?

West Ham lost against Romanian minnows Astra Giurgiu in their two-legged Europa League qualifying round, this week, and that sums up my feelings about a competition that none of the big clubs takes seriously, and is nothing but a banana squeezed into a tail pipe.

Under the tutelage of Slaven Bilic, the Hammers recorded their highest Premier League placing of seventh, unearthed world class talent in Dimitri Payet, and secured European football at their new London Stadium.

The fans got to see one game.

Bilic and the players will say they care. They will sit in front of the press, talk about the importance of qualifying for the Europa League places, and how distressed they are at failing to beat a team of nobodies from Romania.

But secretly, they don’t care.

None of the bigger teams does.

It’s nothing but a distraction.

Europa League success is one pie chart missing from the KPI’s of the Board of Directors of all of the big clubs around Europe.

But we are where we are. The qualifying rounds are over, and the draw for the group stages has ended. There are 12 groups in total, and the English Premier League (EPL) has two teams in the mix.

Manchester United is the favourite to win the competition at +600. As with West Ham, I don’t think Jose Mourinho will care about this trophy. It will be a contest where the reserves will get the chance to show the Special One what they can do, with the stars stepping in should they advance. United face tough trips to Turkey (Fenerbahce), Holland (Feyenoord), and a headache of a trip to the Ukraine to face minnows Zorya Luhansk.

Southampton has a much tougher group where they will face the Italian giants Inter, Sparta Prague, and Hapoel Beer-Sheva. The Bodog sportsbook believes the Saints are a +3300 prospect for the title. Inter are third favourites at +1400.

The second favourites are Roma with Bodog offering odds of +900. The Italian’s have a relatively easy route to the qualifying stages after being drawn against Viktoria Plzen, Austria Vienna and Astra.

UEFA Europa League Winners Odds (Courtesy of Bodog)

Manchester United +600

Roma +900

Inter Milan +1400

AFC Fiorentia +1600

Athletic Bilbao +1600

Villareal +1600

Europa League Draw in Full

Group A

Manchester United

Fenerbahce

Feyenoord

Zorya Luhansk

Group B

Olympiacos

Apoel Nicosia

Young Boys

Astana

Group C

Anderlecht

St Etienne

Mainz

Qabala

Group D

Zenit

AZ Alkmaar

Maccabi Tel Aviv

Dundalk

Group E

Viktoria Plzen

Roma

Austria Vienna

Astra

Group F

Athletico Bilbao

Genk

Rapid Vienna

Sassuolo

Group G

Ajax

Standard Liege

Celta Vigo

Panathinaikos

Group H

Shakhtar Donetsk

Braga

Gent

Konyaspor

Group I

Schalke

Salzburg

Krasnodar

Nice

Group J

Fiorentina

PAOK

Slovan Liberec

Qaragag

Group K

Inter

Sparta Prague

Southampton

Hapoel Beer-Sheva

Group L

Villareal

Steaua Bucharest

Zurich

Osmanlispor

 

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