Champions League draw: group stages
The reigning German champions have already won the most prestigious club competition in Europe five times. Should the sixth title follow, a not uncomplicated group stage will have to be overcome. With Atlético, Bayern have already had some experience in the previous season, but PSV and FC Rostov also aren’t to be underestimated. In spite of that, Bayern are probably the favourites in Group D. The first match-day will take place between the 13th and 14th of September.
There will be a quicker rematch between these two teams than many would have anticipated. When Atlético Madrid defeated FC Bayern with one away goal more, the debate around Guardiola’s possession football was sparked once again. Under Ancelotti, however, Bayern have now adopted a new style. The Italian has his team play more defensively during phases of the game and also tries to cede possession of the ball to the other team now and then. So it’ll be an exciting battle, because the adjusted philosophy will meet its first great test. Neither team has shaken things up dramatically in terms of personnel. Atlético Madrid and Bayern share the fact that their last outing in the Champions League saw them forced to taste defeat just before their ultimate goal. There won’t be a lack of motivation, then.
The Dutch side spectacularly became champions on the last match-day of the previous season. Because Ajax were unable to do better than a 1-1 draw at De Graafschap, eventually it was PSV that were celebrating. They were able to win the title for the 23rd time. In a group with Wolfsburg, CSKA Moscow and Manchester United, they made it to the round of sixteen in the Champions League. There they fell, like Bayern would later, to Atlético Madrid. On penalties, in fact. The outfit from the Netherlands managed to win three of their four home games in the competition. In the fourth and final home game, they achieved a 0-0 against Diego Simeone’s men. The return leg in the Vicente Calderon, too, finished goalless, and had to be decided from the spot. So, PSV Eindhoven should not be underestimated under any circumstances. FC Bayern may be the favourites, but to justify that tag, two concentrated performances will be needed.
That certainly goes as well for probably the biggest unknown quantity of the competition. FC Rostov made their way through Champions League qualification by disposing of Anderlecht and Ajax. They beat the latter on Wednesday evening, by a score-line of 4-1 in fact. This result alone should be reason enough to take the big underdogs seriously. The Russians are in the UEFA Champions League for the first time, and thus have nothing to lose.
FC Bayern has gotten a promising, but more than powerful, group. In Atlético, the first barometer of the status quo in Europe will be met. Against PSV and Rostov, Bayern are clear favourites. Qualification from this group should, then, be obligatory.
CL – fixtures:
13.09. FCB – Rostov
28.09. Atletico – FCB
19.10. FCB – PSV
01.11. PSV – FCB
23.11. Rostov – FCB
06.12. FCB – Atletico
— Christøpher (@rammc) August 25, 2016