The quest for Bayern Munich’s elusive sixth UEFA Champions League (UCL) title begins on Thursday with the group stage draw. Advancing to the round of 16 is the name of the game, but a challenging group is equally as important in preparation for the knockout stages. What can we expect from tomorrow’s selection?
When and where?
When: Thursday, August 30, 2018
Time: 12 pm EST/ 5 pm BST/ 6pm CET
How does it work?
32 teams are split into 8 different groups of 4 teams making up the group stage of the UCL. To determine the groups, these 32 teams are divided into 4 pots of 8 teams. One team from each pot will be selected at random to determine who is in which group. Pot 1 is made up of the league winners and the remaining pots are determined utilizing UEFA’s club coefficient ranking. No team can be selected in the same group as a team within their domestic league.
Since the Bavarians find themselves in pot 1, they will avoid the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid in the group stages, but pots 2-4 consist of some formidable foes. (Note: with 3 positions to be determined by the final playoff matches, the pots will not be complete until Wednesday night)
Pot 1: Real Madrid (UCL Winners), Atletico Madrid (Europa League Winners), Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow.
Pot 3: Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CKSA Moscow, Valencia, Liverpool, PSV Eindhoven.
Pot 4: Club Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Inter Milan, Hoffenheim, AEK Athens, Red Star Belgrade, Viktoria Plzen.
*=Subject to change due to playoff round results.
What should Die Roten hope for?
In light of the upcoming festivities, a few of us here at BFW identified our ideal groups based on where things stand.
Group: Bayern Munich, Shakhtar Donetsk, Monaco, Inter Milan
Explanation: I think this group strikes a balance of easily progress-able, yet keeping us honest at the same time. None of the teams in this [proposed] group would be a walk-over, but Bayern should definitely be beating all of them. With Monaco and Inter, you have two opponents that would force Bayern to not get complacent in the group stages and Donetsk made it a lot further than they thought they might’ve gone last year. Still though, like I said, there’s no reason why Bayern shouldn’t be able to beat all three of these teams and progress to the round of 16. Some people may hope for a group of three weaker teams, but for the overall layout of the competition, eliminating a team like Monaco or Inter in the group stages would only help the chances of the other Bundesliga clubs in the Champions League, which could be massive for the Bundesliga as a whole...
Group: Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Monaco, and Valencia
Explanation: Basically the hardest group one can get while avoiding Liverpool. I’d like Bayern to face a stern test early in the season, and these three teams are perfect for it. It’s too early for us to face Liverpool specifically because of how they play on the counter, but Spurs are fair game. I chose them over Man Utd because United are crap, to be honest—though it would be fun to beat them, so consider them my second choice pick from Pot 2. Monaco and Valencia were just the best of the rest. If Valencia gets moved up into Pot 3 because of the playoff results, then I’d prefer them over Monaco and take Inter from Pot 4.
Why Spurs and not Napoli or Roma? Because playing against an EPL team gives me the best chance of seeing Bayern on TV.
Group: Bayern Munich, Napoli, Monaco, Club Brugge
Explanation: I went for a “just right” approach—not too hot, not too cold. Napoli and Monaco typically rely on an attacking style and aren’t afraid to take games to their opponents, regardless of a gap in quality. This is exactly what Bayern need in preparation for the knockout stage. Die Roten’s woes in the quarter finals and semifinals can be reduced to defensive instability (and injuries...and officiating) and preparing against the likes of Napoli and Monaco, who are not short on firepower, will require defensive solidity and an organized team shape. Beating Carlo Ancelotti is also a major bonus. I included Club Brugge as a buffer in case Bayern stumble out of the gate. An easier opponent might also provide the opportunity to give opportunities to fringe players and maintain harmony within the squad.
The group stage kicks off September 18. Who do you want Bayern to face in round-robin play?