Sunday, 15 September 2013

UEFA Champions League group phase kicks off

Besides the FIFA World Cup, no football competition draws as much interest from the global football community than UEFA Champions League. 

UEFA Champions League group phase kicks off

Managers and players see it as club football’s Holy Grail and the most difficult prize to win.
The trophy rates highly on the priority list for players and managers alike but to club owners the financial reward can help strengthen a cash starved balance sheet. 

Qualification to the Group Stage ensures a lucrative €8.6m windfall with clubs receiving further cash incentives upon winning through to the knockout phase, quarters, semis and ultimately the final.
The Champions League brand is enormously popular and last season’s final between German giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund attracted a global audience in excess of 150 million viewers across 200 countries.

Twitter and Facebook continue to experience massive global traffic, as multiple-platform participation becomes the norm for viewers craving interaction with like-minded football fans.

Group draw results:

Group A
Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad.

Group B
Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, FC Copenhagen.

Group C
PSG, Benfica, Olympiakos, Anderlecht.

Group D
Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, FC Viktoria Plzen.

Group E
Chelsea, Schalke, FC Basel, Steaua Bucharest.

Group F
Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli.

Group G
Porto, Atlético Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg, Austria Vienna.

Group H
Barcelona, Milan, Ajax, Celtic.

Arsenal, Marseille, Dortmund and Napoli arguably drew the toughest group and progression could ultimately come down to head-to-head records. 

Plenty of expectation awaits a group promising to entertain both off and on the pitch.
A must watch for all football ‘hipsters’ is a Borussia Dortmund home game. 

Westfalenstadion in Dortmund has an atmosphere rarely seen in world football and the ‘Yellow Wall’ of fans in the southern terrace is not to be missed.

The most open of groups is Group G with Atlético Madrid, Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and outsiders Austria Vienna. 

Atlético have a strong squad and have commenced their La Liga campaign with a very top-heavy goal differential. 

A match-up with Porto will be the highlight as both teams play an attacking style that will see the goalkeepers kept busy.

EPL heavyweights Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City were dealt favourable draws and should progress through to the knockout rounds.

The Champions League always has potential for the odd ‘banana-skin’ fixture as teams can struggle with the tedious private jet travel demands.

Current champions Bayern Munich could make life difficult for City after their disappointing showing last season under Roberto Mancini.

Finally the Group attracting plenty of attention boasts the richest footballing talent on the planet.

The Real Madrid forward line has been bolstered by the recent world record transfer (€100m) signing of Welsh born Gareth Bale in the transfer window.

The question of many is will the marriage of Bale and star striker Cristiano Ronaldo deliver a tenth European title to the Bernabeu faithful? 

Italian Serie A titleholders Juventus will ensure another classic arm wrestle between the two teams of vastly contrasting styles. 

Both legs will draw an enormous worldwide audience that will see the many coffee-fuelled cafes across the country filled to capacity before the long working day begins. 

Be sure to rest up well and hit the pillow early as the first group stage fixtures kick-off in earnest from September 18 and 19 from 4.45am AEST.

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