Monaco, Aug 28 (IANS) Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola could be satisfied with the draw for this season’s European Champions League group phase as the Spaniard starts his third year with the German football champions with a big, and until now unfulfilled, dream – to win the treble with Bayern.
The draw, which took place in Monaco on Thursday evening, is likely to give the Germans a relatively easy start to the competition as their Group F contains Arsenal with the German internationals Per Mertesacker and Mesut Oezil, Olympiakos Piraeus and GNK Dynamo Zagreb, reports Xinhua.
The first two in each group advance to the knock-out stage. The 2015-16 final will take place in the Guiseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan in Italy on May 28. The group phase will start September 16-17.
“We’re satisfied with the group. It could have been worse. We have to get through the group, no question,” said Bayern defender Jerome Boateng. “London was always a lucky city for us, Piraeus and Zagreb are both never easy to go to but we want to win all of our games,” he added.
Bayern’s Director of Football Matthias Sammer said: “There is only one truth in football, you have to do your homework. But no doubt, we want to get to the next round. We don’t need to talk about Arsenal. Arsenal and Bayern are the favourites in this group, but we have to work flat out in every game.”
The record on the international stage of 2013 Champions League winner Bayern against Arsenal is positive, four wins, two draws and two defeats in eight games. The Germans have beaten Piraeus once and against Zagreb, Bayern have only recorded a draw and a loss. All-in-all, it is an easy group for Bayern and going to the next round should be no problem.
Title-holders Barcelona will face German club Bayer Leverkusen, AS Roma and the Belarus club Bate Borisov in Group E and should have no problems.
Real Madrid in Group A will take on Paris St. Germain, CSKA Moscow and Malmo FF and should go through easily. Chelsea in Group G are the favourites against Porto, Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Manchester United are the favorites in Group B against PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and German cup winners and league runners-up VfL Wolfsburg, who have a good chance to progress, but are about to lose Belgian striker Kevin de Bruyne who is about to join Manchester City for up to 80 million euros.
“We got closer with ManCity,” said Wolfsburg managing director Klaus Allofs. “I think today or tomorrow we can talk about this transfer.”
Manchester City find themselves in the presumably toughest group of all and will play last season’s Champions League finalists Juventus, Sevilla and German league third-place Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are the underdog of this group and are expected to be eliminated after the group games.
No matter which club will walk off the biggest prize in the end, all the participating teams are happy about the extra income, up to 33 per cent, handed out by the European Football Union (UEFA).
The 2015-16 champions will receive 15 million euros for winning the final with 10.5 million for the runners-up.
A victory in the pre-quarterfinals will now be worth 5.5 million euros, in the quarterfinals six million euros and seven million euros in the semi-finals. Meaning, a club winning all its games could make up to 55 million euros plus an additional sum stemming from the marketing pool and ticket sales.
Every victory in the group phase is worth 1.5 million euros, for a draw it will be 500,000 euros. In addition every participant get 12 million euros as a starting fee.
While fans around the world are keenly awaiting for the kick off of this season’s Champions League games, Thiago Alcantara has signed a new contract with Bayern. The 24-year-old midfielder, one of the favourite players of Guardiola, signed a new contract until 2019.
In contrast Guardiola’s future is even more uncertain after the 45-year-old Spaniard has not yet decided on his next step.
Most pundits in Germany now expect Guardiola to leave. And rumours say that Bayern are busy looking for a successor. Names like Moenchengladbach’s Swiss-born coach Lucien Favre and former Real coach Carlo Ancelotti are said to be on the list of candidates.