After much prattling about courtesy of the fine folks of UEFA, we have our draw:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Inter Milan||Lyon||Manchester United||Barcelona|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Schalke 04||Rangers||FC Copenhagen|
|FC Twente||Hapoel Tel Aviv||Bursaspor||Rubin Kazan|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
|Bayern Munich||Chelsea||AC Milan||Arsenal|
|AS Roma||Marseille||Real Madrid||Shaktar Donesk|
|FC Basel||Spartak Moscow||Ajax||SC Braga|
|CFR Cluj||MSK Zilinia||Auxerre||Partisan Belgrade|
Some general thoughts after the jump.
Tottenham got a tough draw in Group A. While they're probably better than both Werder Bremen and FC Twente, it's not by so much that they're guaranteed points against them. This is the only group without a rollover team or two, but they avoided the major threats (sans Inter, of course); Spurs fans will have to be reasonably happy with the draw. Plus they get to play the reigning European Champions at White hart Lane, which will be fun.
Group B features one of the weakest Pot 1 teams in Lyon, and they're followed by Benfica, Schalke 04, and Hapoel. There's a very real chance that Lyon don't even get out of the group - not a whole lot separates the top three teams - and it may well come down to luck in the end.
Manchester United head Group C, and they'll be reacquainted with old friends Glasgow Rangers in what people are already styling the 'Battle of Britain.' A more apt description might be 'nightmare for the hardworking police officers of Greater Manchester,' but there you go. Valencia and Bursaspor will round things out. The last team is one of those Turkish sides that isn't Fenebache, Beskitas, or Galatasary, and therefore I know nothing about them.
Group D would have been much more interesting if Panithanikos and FC Copenhagen hadn't been drawn in between Barcelona and Rubin Kazan. As it is, two of the strongest teams from Pots 1 and 4 will go up against pretty weak opposition from 2 and 3, and I'd have to expect Kazan to advance.
Group E shouldn't be a problem for last year's losing finalists, Bayern Munich. They will be facing Roma, Basle, and Cluj - the top seeded teams should advance fairly easily unless Roma has a meltdown or something.
Chelsea are tops in Group F, and got one of the easiest paths to the knockout round that they could have hoped for. Marseille, Spartak Moscow, and Zilinia are all the easiest (or close to it) draws from each pot, and the Blues dropping more than a few points against such weak opposition would be surprising. They probably won't need to break a sweat to finish first.
Group G is interesting, with two fallen giants, Real Madrid, and an ok team in Auxerre. Real should win that group fairly tidily, leaving AC and Ajax to fight things out for the second spot. It's hard to say which way that will go, but either way it's going to be pretty entertaining to watch some of Europes biggest names beat each other up. Poor Auxerre.
Arsenal are in Group H, and their opposition include Shaktar Donesk, new home of ex-Gunner Eduardo. SC Braga and Partisan Belgrade round out the group, and neither will overly trouble the Londoners. Braga do have a shot of sneaking through the group at Shaktar's expense, though.
I'm glad it took UEFA an hour to tell us all of this.