The final 32 teams for the UEFA Champions League Group Stage are finalized. The Group Stage draw was held in Monaco on Thursday so all the teams have a good idea of what will be required to finish in the top 2 of their group and advance to the elimination rounds.
The battle is not just between the teams on the field but the brands that outfit the clubs. Nike leads the way as the apparel sponsor for 11 of the teams but adidas is not far behind with 10 teams and arguably the 2 most likely teams to win it all in the defending champion, Real Madrid, and the 2012/13 winner, Bayern Munich.
The other brands in the mix are Puma with 5 teams, Warrior and Macron with 2 teams each, followed by JOMA and KPOK with 1 team each sporting their logo.
|UEFA Champions League Group A|
Atletico Madrid finished as runners-up last year and have a tough start to the task of returning to the final. They are in Group A with Juventus, Olympiakos, and Malmo; all of whom won their domestic league last season. Group A is the only group with all league winners. This group should be wide-open with every team having a chance to advance. Malmo is the biggest question mark as the Swedish team is making their group stage debut.
|UEFA Champions League Group B|
The defending champions, Real Madrid, will no doubt be pleased with their draw. The La Liga side have added strength in the off-season and have the incentive to become the first team to repeat as champions in the Champions League era. Liverpool and FC Basel will most likely be battling for a second place finish while Ludogorets is punching above their weight just to get to this point of the competition. Who knows maybe they can play the spoiler for one of the other 3 teams.
|UEFA Champions League Group C|
|Zenit St Petersburg||Nike||BUY|
Zenit St Petersburg advanced out of the last year’s Champions League group stage with a record low 6 points and should know better than to think lighting will strike twice. That being said this is one of the most balanced group. There is no clear favorite and each team knows what it takes to be successful on the European stage so maybe 6 points will do the job.
|UEFA Champions League Group D|
All 4 of these teams played in last season’s Champions League group stage. And for Arsenal this is an annual right of passage for the fall having qualified for the last 17 Champions League group stages. The Gunners and Borussia Dortmund are very familiar with each other having been in the same group in 3 of the last 4 Champions Leagues and will be the favorites to advance but either Galatasaray or Anderlecht could ruin those plans.
|UEFA Champions League Group E|
Group E contains 3 domestic champions in Bayern, Man City, and CSKA Moscow with AS Roma finishing as runners-up in Serie A making this arguably the tournament’s ‘group of death.’ There will be some revenge factor on hand as well with Bayern, Man City, and CSKA Moscow all in the same group last season. And there will be tensions on and off the field. CSKA Moscow’s Arena Khimki was where Yaya Toure was racially abused last season.
|UEFA Champions League Group F|
Group F should possibly be known as the ‘Zlatan Ibrahimovic group’ as the PSG hitman has played for 3 of the 4 teams – Barcelona and Ajax as well, during his career. The pressure will be on him and the rest of the Ligue 1 team as they have high hopes of winning the Champions League and with 2 years under their belt since the big spending started year #3 is seen as one to shine. Barcelona is a shadow of their former selves in terms of recent results but the roster is so strong it is hard not to see them as the group favorite. While Ajax must be ruing their bad luck to once again be in a very difficult group where most predict their best they can hope for is to finish 3rd and drop into the Europa League.
|UEFA Champions League Group G|
Jose Mourinho has been building the Chelsea squad to have the strength and depth to play for domestic and Champions League glory and the Blues received a great draw to ease into European play. They have arguably the easiest draw of any of the Premier League teams and will be eager to finish top to set the path to the final. Schalke 04 and Sporting Lisbon looked set to fight for second with Maribor making the group stage for only the second time with their last appearance in 1999/2000.
|UEFA Champions League Group H|
The group that is most likely to be wide open with any team having a chance to finish on top of bottom of the table. It is so finely balanced that every team will look to play attacking soccer against their opponents to hopefully grab the advantage.
The 7 brands and the teams they sponsor
|AS Roma||Ajax||Apoel Nicosia||Liverpool||L Razgrad||BATE||Moscow|
|A Bilbao||Anderlecht||Arsenal||Porto||S Lisbon|
|A Madrid||FC Basel||B Dortmund|
|S Donetsk||Schakle 04|
Who do you think will win the UEFA Champions League?
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