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Champions League Draw in Full

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC

Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Analysis:

Group A:  Group A will be a very interesting group to watch unfold.  Juventus, Bayern and Bordeaux all have a great chance of reaching the knockout rounds, but it may all come down to how each of them play Maccabi Haifa – the Israeli champions.  In my eyes, whoever drops points to Haifa, doesn’t make it to the next round.

Prediction:

Bayern Munich and Juventus progress

Group B: Manchester United will be disappointed with all the traveling they will be doing, especially to Turkey where the hooligans go mad every time United come to town.  Wolfsburg is also going to be a bigger threat than they’re given credit for, watch for them to nick points in group play.  The Russians will be a stingy opposition and may steal points in the Motherland, but away from home may struggle to find their feet.  Wolfsburg are my dark horse of the tournament.  I don’t think for a second they deserved the fourth pot, but now find themselves with a tall order.  They can push for the knockout round, and their match against CSKA Moscow will make or break their run.

Prediction

Manchester United and Wolfsburg progress

Group C: Group C, along with F, is a “group of death”.  Somehow, Madrid dodged the British bullet (which makes for a more exciting knockout stage!), and they should find themselves in the knockout round before too long.  AC Milan have had a dodgy start to their campaign, and if they don’t start clicking could start dropping points in group play.  Marseille have been a tough nut to crack in years past, and with the addition of Morientes to their attacking play, will give Milan and Madrid a test.

Prediction:

Real Madrid and AC Milan to progress

Group D: The boys from London should have a spot in the knockout round if they keep their heads about them.  The only thing I would worry about is that they’ve been giving up goals early in the EPL and come from behind to win it, and may well do so against more formidable sides in this competition who won’t be so forgiving.  Atletico are always impressive to watch and I don’t see anyone but those two making it past this group.

Prediction:

Chelsea and Atletico Madrid to progress

Group E: Liverpool can’t have too many complaints here, they were grouped with great teams in Lyon and Fiorentina, but, to be honest, they should be able to cope.  The Merseysiders should claim the top spot, but the second one is completely up for grabs.  Fiorentina and Lyon are both squads that have firepower up top (Mutu and Govou) and can work to break down their opponents.  Fiorentina would love to have Melo back in their squad as I have no doubt he’d love to break up the Frenchmen in attack.

Prediction:

Liverpool and Lyon (by a hair!) to progress

Group F: This is it.  The group of death. We have the reigning Spanish and European champions as well as the Italian and Ukrainian league winners.  I’ve had to keep my mouth shut all day so as not to drool all over my desk.  Mourinho vs. Guardiola.  Eto’o vs. Pique.  Ibrahimovic vs. Cordoba.  Chocolate vs. Vanilla.  Coke vs. Pepsi.  Bert vs. Ernie.

Prediction:

It’s not going any other way.  Barcelona on top, Inter taking second.

Group G: My pick (and yours if you have sense) for the tamest group.  Not a lot to gawk at here.  Rangers and Sevilla will probably make the next stage, as I don’t think Stuttgart have enough bite to make any marks here.  Unirea Uriziceni will just be happy to be in the competition, and will love the fact that they have be thrown into this group.

Prediction:

Rangers and Sevilla to progress (in that order)

Group H: Arsenal may have the best of the English teams, and Wenger will be hard pressed to find something to complain about (if you can believe that!).  But remember the torrid time Standard Liege gave Liverpool last season in the qualifying rounds, as they could give group H some trouble.  Gunners aside, this group is fairly balanced.  Each team will fancy their chances at nabbing the last spot into the knockout stages.

Prediction:

Arsenal and Standard Liege to progress


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Chelsea to Appeal Bans Set on Drogba & Bosingwa
July 2, 2009, 9:17 PM
Filed under: Champions League | Tags: , , , ,
Drogba furious with Referee Ovrebo in London

Drogba furious with Referee Ovrebo in London

Chelsea today revealed their determination to stand toe-to-toe with UEFA over the punishments which followed their rancorous response to Champions League defeat at the hands of Barcelona.

Precisely a week after European football’s overning body confirmed the Londoners would fight the bans handed out to striker Didier Drogba and right-back Jose Bosingwa, as well as an £85,000 club fine, the Blues revealed the reasoning behind their appeal.

A statement read: “We have today lodged an appeal against the UEFA bans given to Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa, and the fine imposed against the club.

“We believe these punishments are unnecessarily harsh given the circumstances.

“We would reiterate that the players and the club are acutely aware of our responsibilities towards setting a good example as role models and upholding the values of the game.

“That is why honest and sincere apologies were made swiftly after these regrettable incidents occurred.”

On June 17, Drogba was given a six-match ban – the last two suspended for two years – for his foul-mouthed confrontation with referee Tom Henning Ovrebo at the end of Chelsea’s 1-1 Champions League semi-final second-leg draw with Barcelona on May 6 – a result which sent the English side out on away goals..

UEFA’s control and disciplinary body also handed a four-match ban – the last game suspended for two years – to right-back Jose Bosingwa.

The Portugal defender labelled Ovrebo a “thief” after the same game, while the club received a fine of £85,000 for the improper conduct of their players and for the throwing of missiles by their supporters.

It all followed a controversial clash in which Ovrebo turned down a number of strong penalty appeals by Chelsea, which may have proved decisive before Andres Iniesta’s injury-time decider for the Catalans.

A date for an appeal hearing has yet to be revealed by UEFA.

Analysis:  When you stand in front of a live camera crew and call the referee “a f•••ing disgrace”, what’d you expect?  Drogba looked like a bigger disgrace as he waddled on to the field in his flip flops, pointing finger like a grandmother at anyone not in a blue shirt screaming in broken English for a penalty after the whistle had blown.  Granted, they had several good appeals dor penalties, they WEREN’T given.  Nothing will change that.  Ever.  Look at Lampard, he played the entire game, and even though he was upset (for great reason) he handled himself like a man. He showed in the interview afterwards that he was furious, but, again, took it like a man.  Again, I won’t take anything away from their penalty appeals.  They could have and should have had at least two if not three.

Bosingwa labeled Ovrebo a “thief” in a television interview, and will subsequently face a possible ban as well (even though reports are that he may not even be at the Bridge next season, as he is used as weight to bring Franck RIbery in).  Though both Drogba and Bosingwa retracted their statements…come on…they said it, and I’m sure the club forced them to take them back in order to avoid bans.

The 31 year old striker and 26 year old full back looked like children.

Likelihood of bans? – Almost undoubtedly they will face bans, possibly of four matches.  UEFA rarely overturns such punishments.

Grow up, kids.