United avoids Ronaldo in Champions draw
Manchester United will not face a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo after the draw for the Champions League group stage was made in Monaco today. Sir Alex Ferguson’s men avoid Real Madrid, but instead were drawn to play CSKA Moscow, Besiktas and Wolfsburg in Group B as the team looks to reach a third successive final. Ferguson’s side will open with a tough away tie at Besiktas on September 15, and conclude the group stage with a match on December 8.
“These are difficult ties especially the trips to Russia and Turkey,” Sir Alex told ManUtd.com. “CSKA have developed strongly in the last few years and games in Turkey are always difficult. We also know the quality that we’re up against with Wolfsburg, with what they achieved in the Bundesliga last season.”
Sir Alex Ferguson will have mixed feelings about the draw, as it pits his team against some of Europe’s lesser lights, but includes dangerous German champions Wolfsburg and a long trip to Moscow. CSKA were among the lowest ranked teams that United could have drawn from pot two in the Monaco ceremony, but Wolfsburg with no European history were the toughest of the pot four teams. With two of the four sides set to qualify for the first knock-out round, United will still expect to qualify, but will be unhappy with two long midweek trips to Russia and Turkey.
United’s opening tie, away at Besiktas, comes just a few days prior to the first Manchester derby of the season. The final game is away at Wolfsburg on December 8.
Last season’s champions Barcelona has been drawn against Inter Milan, Dinamo Kiev, and Russian champions Rubin Kazan. Meanwhile big-spending Real Madrid’s Kaká will face a trip back to AC Milan, as well as games against Marseille, and FC Zurich.
The final will take place on May 22, 2010 at Real Madrid’s home ground Santiago Bernabeu.
Full Group Draw
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, FC Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel Nicosia
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debrecen
Group F: FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dinamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege