Germans in Europe

Posted on August 26, 2011

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Five Bundesliga clubs have learned their European fate for the first half of the season with some interesting ties on the cards.

FC Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen will all face English opposition in the UEFA Champions League and will out to prove that the Bundesliga is stronger than the English Premier League.

Both Schalke and Hannover had fairly nervy Europa League clashes on Thursday but they progressed and will fly the German flag in the competition. Unfortunately, FSV Mainz were unable to progress to the group stages after losing to Gaz Metan in the Third Qualifying Round.

Top seeds FC Bayern were drawn in Group A with La Liga side Villarreal, Manchester City from the Premier League and Napoli.

Manchester City, of course, will be the headline clash of the group and the other three clubs will be cursing their luck at drawing City from Pot Three.

However, don’t rule out Villarreal and Napoli, the latter in particular, have some excellent players in Edison Cavani and Marek Hamsik.

German Champions Borussia Dortmund were the ‘must-avoid’ team of Pot Four and they will fancy their chances of qualifying for the Last 16 with Arsenal, Marseille and Olympiacos in their group.

After last season’s stunning title triumph, there was a genuine excitement about seeing the youthful Dortmund up against Europe’s top clubs. They will be without Nuri Sahin who was an integral part of the title-winning squad but Jurgen Klopp has made some astute signings and should be challenging for qualification, at the very least.

Given the ‘mini-crisis’ surrounding Arsene Wenger’s side, Die Borussen must be a good bet to win the group outright.

And the runners-up of the Bundesliga last season, Bayer Leverkusen, will take on Andre Villas Boas’ Chelsea side in Group E.

Leverkusen have changed coach from last season with Jupp Heynckes now in charge at FC Bayern and this will be Robin Dutt’s first experience of management in the Champions League.

The trip to Stamford Bridge will be a stern test for Bayer but second seeds Valencia will likely be the closest challenger to Leverkusen with both clubs going head-to-head for second place effectively. Belgian side Genk, who beat Maccabi Haifa to qualify, are the fourth seeds of the group.

The pressure was on Ralf Rangnick’s side going in to Thursday’s Europa League play-off with HJK Helsinki after last week’s embarrassing defeat in Finland.

But Die Konigsblauen were never in any doubt with a 6-1 victory over the minnows from Scandanavia with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scoring four on the night.

Schalke were drawn in Group J of the UEFA Europa League alongside Steaua Bucharest, Maccabi Haifa and AEK Larnaca. In all fairness, it would be disastrous if Schalke weren’t able to progress from the Group Stages.

Mirko Slomka’s Hannover were underdogs against Sevilla CF in the Europa League play-off clash but the Bundesliga side progressed over two legs after an excellent 1-1 draw with the Spaniards on Thursday.

From pot three, Hannover were drawn in a tougher group with FC Copenhagen and Standard Liege providing the stern opposition. Ukrainian cracks Vorskla were the fourth seeds of the group.

UEFA Champions League:

Group A: FC Bayern, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli

Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Leverkusen, Genk

Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Olympiacos, Dortmund

UEFA Europa League:

Group B: FC Copenhagen, Standard Liege, Hannover 96, Vorskla

Group J: Schalke 04, Steaua Bucharest, Maccabi Haifa, AEK Larnaca

 

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