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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


UEFA Champions League & Europa League Draw

Written by on December 16, 2011 | 7 Comments »
Posted in UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League

The draw for both competitions is set at sparrow-fart in the Americas on Friday. I will be back to over some thoughts on the draws and I hope you will be as well.

Champions League


The draw that every group runner-up wanted – Lyon celebrate but ….


Napoli knocked out Manchester City so they have been officially accepted by the English media as a good team.

All sorts of sub-plots and tactical battles set for this one.


The draw that none of the group winners wanted. Milan better than last season – can Arsenal continue to move forward?


Basel beat Manchester United but I cannot see them doing that to Bayern.

Bayer Leverkusen-Barcelona

Barcelona would have no worries no matter there draw and I can’t see this one being anything else but business as usual.

CSKA v Real Madrid

I did not see anything within group play that would cause me to doubt that Real Madrid is going to be in the draw for the last eight.

Zenit St. Petersburg -Benfica

A nicely balanced tie in prospect.


One of the sort of ties that is difficult to get a handle on. Will it be the same Inter side in two months time or will Ranieri have started to turn the team around?

Europa League

Porto v Manchester City – interesting fixture although not sure what to make of Porto this season.

Ajax v Manchester Utd – This should not be much of a problem for United

Lokomotiv Moscow v Athletic Bilbao

SV Salzburg v Metalist Kharkiv

Stoke City v Valencia – we will find out if Valencia can play on a cold wet Thursday night at the Britannia.

Rubin Kazan v Olympiakos

AZ Alkmaar v Anderlecht

Lazio v Atlético Madrid

Steaua Bucharest v Twente

Plzen v Schalke

Wisla Krakow v Standard Liège

Braga v Besiktas

Udinese v Paok

Trabzonspor v PSV

Hannover v Brugge

Legia Warsaw v Sporting

Europa League round of 16 draw

SV Salzburg/Metalist v Rubin K/Olympiakos

Legia W/Sporting v Porto/Manchester City – could be Portuguese opponents for City again

Steaua/Twente v Plzen/Schalke

Wisla K/Standard L v Hannover/Brugge

Stoke/Valencia v Trabzonspor/PSV

AZ Alkmaar/Anderlecht v Udinese/Paok – can Udinese maintain a challenge on two fronts?

Lazio/Atletico M v Braga/Besiktas

Ajax/Manchester Utd v Lokomotiv M/Athletic B – hoping for a United vs. Bielsa’s Bilbao match up

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7 responses to “UEFA Champions League & Europa League Draw”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    My thoughts.

    Champions League

    Apoel might be Platini’s dream due to Lyon drawing them. Wink, wink. Yes they’ve played tough, but they’ll be taken more seriously now which will mean the end of the road. Nice run.

    AVB and Chelsea will have no choice but to go hard after the CL, but not so sure for Napoli. League standings and play could affect their, let’s say resolve. I truely think that Napoli will be sellers come this summers transfer season, no matter what. Even if they are able to advance here or lock up a CL spot for next season, which ultimately I think ownership would prefer.

    Milan has no business losing to Arsenal if they’re healthy. Big if.
    That would mean only one EPL team advancing into the Quarters. Will this become the norm due to more teams competing for a top 4 spot? With those same competing squads ignoring Europa, the coefficient will finaly start taking a hit.
    Then again if City and Man United due take it seriously, it might not.

    I think that Schweinsteigers woes could hurt Bayern a great deal. Yes they are cruising right now, and I would fully expect them to be in it. Having the final at home is a great motivator.

    Both Barca and Real will have no problems.
    I still say that Barca is very weak on the defensive end, especially if they suffer injuries. Mascherano or Busquets moving to the backline weakens it and the midfield.
    I also feel that Villa’s injury hurts them. Not on the field, since I was of the belief that he was being moved in january. His wages remaining on the squad will impare moves. Nevermind the selling amount, whatever it might have been.
    I think that Villa was definately headed to Chelsea.

    As a Benfiquista I can’t be to upset with the draw. Zenit will be tough, especially in the “frozen tundra”. The travel also isn’t easy for Benfica. I think that Benfica has the talent to get through, especially if they are able to get a draw away.
    League play might also come into affect here, although the CL will be of the of most importance.

    Marselle vs Inter is a toss up. That sounds incredible, but I would go even further and say the French have the upperhand. Inter will be fighting for a CL spot and more than a few of their players will be thinking of where they’ll be next season if not moved in January.


    This Porto squad is nowhere near last seasons performance. Their manager Pereira could be gone by the time this match comes along.
    City could play their bench and I think they will advance.

    Sadly for Portugal, they might fins themselves with two teams out since I feel City will face Sporting in the following round.
    Very tough considering Portugal had three teams in the final four last season.

    Braga were also done no favors, even if they do get by Besiktas.
    They will also be fighting for the 3rd CL spot Portugal has earned for next season.
    Let’s just say that the coefficient will take a hit in Portugal this season.

    I agree with you in regards to Man United. Ajax is just too young.
    I was hoping that Bilbao would have an easier task should they have advanced pass Lokomotiv.

    For Valencia, it will just be important that the return match won’t be cold and wet.

    My biggest question is how hard will City and Man United go for Europa. Granted they can play the bench and conceivably get far, and starters come in for semis and final.
    Stoke won’t push hard if they drop close to relegation zone.
    I think that Spanish, Portuguese and Eastern block clubs will always go hard for Europa. They usually know their standing and fortune in league play, so they are able to go for it.
    British and Italian clubs usually dismiss it it due to rigors of league play. We’ll see this season.

    Sorry for long post.

  2. J Rob says:

    Great supplemental thoughts from Ed. Milan vs Arsenal the pick of the ties for me and I am sure many others. Think Arsenal have nothing to fear if key players are fit.

    Love the Stoke comment Bobby. Valencia didnt look clever defensively against Cheksea last week. Did you notice last weekend that the Stoke throw-in takers had some sort of towel sown into the inside of their shirts?

  3. Gus Keri says:

    AC Milan vs Arsenal also is my pick of the ties.

    The two teams are strong proponents of the “Beautiful game”. Looking forward to it being one of those classic match-ups.

    My pick to win it, is AC Milan but considering that Ibrahimovic has been a bad omen to all his past clubs in the UCL, it might not work well for them.

    Many of you remember that Ibra has helped every club he played for in winning the domestic championship but he failed to help any one in winning the UCL. None even reached the final game, either.

    He won the domestic league every year since 2001-02 season except the 2002-03 season. (9 out of 10 seasons).

    This might play in Arsenal’s favor.

  4. UEFA CL
    Lyon vs Apoel
    LYON!!! what a break!!! the gods are good.
    Straight through no question. I dont know what you butted for, Lyon are going through and are growing in stride.

    Both match to televise, Napoli vs Chelsea
    Napoli dont have the depth to go hard in the UEFA CL and get into the top 2 spots of Serie A to get back into the UEFA CL.
    I think Napoli will go for Chelsea, but Chelsea are hitting strides, AVB was charged with continuing the transformation into the torres era from the Drogba era and seems to have done that with little help from Torres but good design of the younger players and senior players.
    If AVB keeps the defensive set Chelsea and works on that, they will have no problem with Napoli

    1st match to televise, 2nd if Milan vs Arsenal
    I agree that Barcelona happily got Milan in the previous round, and Arsenal is very unlucky. Milan is truly Italian. They will frustrate the offense of Arsenal and one of my personal peeves with Arsenal has always been that they like to play the ball through the midfield and do mini interchanges like Barcelona but get frustrated far quicker than Barcelona.
    That performance Milan did against Barca, Arsenal will lose that game if Milan play that way. Also, someone mentioned about English players on sky sports news and referred to 4 years ago. This Milan has boateng and Robinho and Ibra and van bommel: they have players who know the premier league so the idea that Milan will be pressed is foolish. Second, Arsenal arent the most defensively tough club in the PL.
    And, by then, who will Milan have brought in for Cassano. Tevez cant play in UEFA CL, but he will allow them to rest a top player for the UEFA CL. And, then possibly have Tevez for next season.

    Bayern vs Basel
    total annihilation, german clubs and especially Bayern see the key in this champions league

    1st match to televise 2nd if Barcelona vs Leverkusen
    I disagree with your view on this one. When I look at Barca they are a great side and definitely are the odds favorite but to me the question is fitness and depth. And, the passion of Leverkusen. The final is in Germany, that is tasty, Leverkusen might try to really attack Barcelona to their best and might surprise the odds makers.
    So, Barca’s fitness from now till then and their condition in la liga, and Leverkusens preparation and passion when the time comes are the points.

    1st match to televise 2nd if Real Madrid vs CSKA Moscow
    Like Barca, Real Madrid are heavy favorites, but I think Moscow and russian teams have something to prove. It would have been a better competitive pairing with Zenit, but Moscow might surprise the first match.

    Both match to televise Zenit vs Benfica
    This will be a great pairing. Can’t wait. A real fight.

    Both match to televise Marseille vs Inter
    I love MArseille!! and I love Inter !! what a shame for me. I think Marseille is underrated. Remy up top, and then the Ayew brothers and Valbuena with Cheyrou and Gonzalez is a pretty strong forward and midfield group. The defense of MArseille will be solid as usual. I think MArseille can beat Inter.
    BUt, Inter can beat MArseille, these games will be defensively gritty, both clubs have a defensive mindset and the Coutinho and pazzini are starting to click and hopefully Sniejder will be available and of course Milito, the principe, who in my view really doesnt get good press. So, Both clubs will have a fight.

    EUROPA League

    Both games to watch Porto vs ManC
    two clubs that were really hoping to not be in the Europa League, are in the Europa League.

    Both games to watch Lazio vs Atletico Madrid
    Spains lesser clubs like the Europa League.

  5. brklynstrr says:

    Do you think Mourinho will leave Spanish Football if Madrid win the CL? He did it at Porto and Inter Milan. If thats what it takes then i hope Barca throw the comp, let Madrid have it, sacrifice it so Mou and his sore losing can go elsewhere.

  6. Alberta Gooner says:

    Very pleased we drew Milan because it will make for a memorable tie. Playing against the likes of Basel or CSKA just wouldn’t provide the same sense of occasion. Plus we have a pretty good record against Italian sides in recent times so there’s no particular fears about travelling to the San Siro. Looking forward to it.

  7. Gillian says:

    Enjoying these haiku-like appraisals of the matchups.

    I don’t know why I keep reading that Man Utd have gotten a tough EL draw. From where I’m sitting Ajax should be easy breezy for them.

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