Champions League: Manchester City handed ‘hardest group of them all’, says Patrick Vieira
MANCHESTER City face the mother of all battles to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League after being drawn in the toughest of the groups in Europe’s top club competition.
Patrick Vieira, City’s director of football development, admitted “you can’t get much worse than that” after Roberto Mancini’s men were drawn against Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.
Group D looks a throwback to the days of the old European Cup – it will pit the English champions against the champions of Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Yet Vieira believes City, who failed to get out of the group phase last season, can progress and even go all the way to the final at Wembley next May.
Vieira said: “You can’t get worse than that, it’s a really tough group, the hardest group of all of them. But when you look at the football the prospect is really exciting. The players will be excited to play Real Madrid – the first time Manchester City will ever have played Real and the fans will love it to play them and Dortmund and Ajax.”
The first meeting with Real will be on the first day of the tournament, at the Bernabeu on 18 September. Vieira added: “Last season was the first time the club has been in the Champions League so we need to learn, to improve. I believe we learned a lot from last year, and I think if we can get out of the group stage you never know where we can go.”
Defending champions Chelsea will have their work cut out in Group E along with Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine, Serie A winners Juventus and Danish champions Nordsjaelland.
However, Manchester United and Arsenal have more straightforward-looking groups. The Gunners are in Group B with Schalke, Olympiakos and Montpellier, while Sir Alex Ferguson’s United take on Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj in Group H.
For Ferguson, the group will be a chance for his side to make amends for the “stupid errors” they committed in Europe last season but he warned there will be a hostile environment in Turkey when facing Galatasaray.
Ferguson said: “We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and will always remember the ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners. So it’s always a difficult type of match.
“We’ve never played Cluj before but, after the experience of last year, we don’t want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west