With the Bundesliga in full swing and the DFB Pokal second stage all sorted out, the Champions League is the last piece of the Schedule FC Bayern Münichen is still waiting for.
Now that the UEFA Champions League Qualifying is over, all that is left is the draw in Monaco on Thursday. Here's the four tiers of the draw:
|Tier 1||Tier 2||Tier 3||Tier 4|
|FC Bayern München||Club Atlético de Madrid||FC Zenit St. Petersburg||FC København|
|FC Barcelona||FC Shakhtar Donetsk||Manchester City FC||SSC Napoli|
|Chelsea FC||AC Milan
||AFC Ajax||RSC Anderlecht|
|Real Madrid CF||FC Schalke 04||Borussia Dortmund||Celtic FC
|Manchester United FC||Olympique de Marseille
||FC Basel 1893||FC Steaua Bucuresti
|Arsenal FC||PFC CSKA Moskva
||Olympiakos CFP||FC Viktoria Pizeň|
|FC Porto||Paris-Saint Germain FC
||Galatasaray AŞ||Real Sociedad de Fútbol
|SL Benfica||Juventus Turin
||Bayer Leverkusen||FK Austria Wien
FC Bayern get to avoid any of the 2013 UEFA Champions League semi-finalists in the group stage this year, considering Barcelona and Real Madrid are in the first tier and Borussia Dortmund is a German team. What the reds can't avoid is some big money spenders like Paris-Saint Germain and Manchester City.
Best-case Scenario: CSKA Moskva, Olympiakos CFP, FK Austria Wien
While at the top of the Russian Premier League table, CSKA Moskva has not preformed well recently in European competition. While they did manage an appearance in the 2011/2012 Champions League Round of 16, they lost 6-2 aggregate against Real Madrid. What made matters worse was they barely snatched a Europa League Qualifying spot and were eliminated in the playoff round just a few weeks later. Simply put, they are not a two-front team.
Olympiakos did win the Greek Super League last year by 15 points, but only impressed in the Champions League against Montpellier, who struggled in all French competitions last season. Arsenal ripped them apart in the Emirates, and Levante ripped them apart in the Round of 32 in the Europa League shortly after. They have not advanced out of the Group Stage of the Champions League since the 2009/2010 season, and unless they are put in a favorable group, they won't make it again this year.
Austria Wien has a UEFA Coefficient of 16.575, just below Real Sociedad for worst of all qualifiers. The Austrian Champions had to weave through FH Hafnarfjördur of Iceland and Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia to qualify. They have struggled the past few years even reaching the UEFA Europa League over the past few years, and they have not advanced out of the group stage when they eventually qualified. They will need an APOEL-esque performance to make it to the next round.
Worst-case Scenario: Paris-Saint Germain FC, Manchester City FC, SSC Napoli
The group of death in 2012/13 was hands down the Real Madrid/Borussia Dortmund/Manchester City/Ajax group, but this group would blow that one out of the water. All three clubs spent a lot of money with the goal of making a Champions League sized statement – Paris-Saint Germain spent a net €102 million on transfers, Manchester City net €80.5 million, Napoli a net €22.8 million. Add the €20.7 million net spending from Bayern and this group has a cast of characters meant for a James Cameron movie, not one for the Sundance Film Festival.
Of course, Napoli did not qualify for the Champions League last year, and Manchester City got eliminated from the first round, but both teams have new managers and are looking to build on their league success. Going into the Etihad or Stadio San Paolo would not be a walk in the park, neither would strolling into le Parc de Princes in the French capitol.
For those curious, FCB.tv will show the draw at 12:00 PM EDT. Click here to find out the television listings if you want to watch.
Who do you think FC Bayern will/should draw in the group stage? Feel free to comment below.