Both Madrid sides got a tough draw in the upcoming group stage of the UEFA Champions League. Of all of the Spanish team Real Madrid got the unenviable distinction of being in this year’s Group of Death. They will have to face none other than European rivals Juventus as well as the reigning UEFA Cup champ Zenit St. Petersburg. Fabio Cannavaro, if healthy would be making his return to Turin after leaving in 2006 during the Calciopoli scandal which saw the La Vecchia Signora head to Serie B.Speaking of storylines, there will be another one brewing a little further up the road from the Bernabéu when Fernando Torres makes his return to the Vicente Calderón. Liverpool faces a tough mountain to climb if they would like to make a return trip to the same venue that saw Steve Nicol and Bruce Grobbelaar become heroes at Anfield 25 years ago. They will also face reigning Dutch champs PSV Eindhoven as well as 1991 European ¨champs¨ Olympique Marseille.
Villarreal will see themselves heading twice to the British Isles as they will face both Celtic and title holders Manchester United. For New Jersey-born Italian international to be, Giuseppe Rossi, it will be a homecoming of sorts. He was one of the brightest stars of the United youth sides, and showed moments of brilliance when given the chance. This is his chance to show his old team that he was worthy of bein gon that team´s starting XI. Rossi is coming off a prolific summer when he was the leading scorer of the Olympic tournament with four goals. Unfortunately for Rossi and the azzurri they were only able to make the quarterfinals. Villarreal will also have to play against Danish side Aalborg.
Josep Guardiola´s Barcelona side in the meantime will have the opposite pressure than the other three Spanish teams. They will be obligated to win their group, not just qualify as they will have Sporting Lisbon, Shakhtar Donestk, and Swiss side FC Basel to contend with.
|2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage|
|Group A||Group B|
|Chelsea FC (ENG)||FC Internazionale Milano (ITA)|
|AS Roma (ITA)||Werder Bremen (GER)|
|FC Girondins de Bordeaux (FRA)||Panathinaikos FC (GRE)|
|CFR 1907 Cluj (ROU)||Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP)|
|Group C||Group D|
|FC Barcelona (ESP)||Liverpool FC (ENG)|
|Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR)||PSV Eindhoven (NED)|
|FC Basel 1893 (SUI)||Olympique de Marseille (FRA)|
|FC Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)||Club Atlético de Madrid (ESP)|
|Group E||Group F|
|Manchester United FC (ENG, holders)||Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)|
|Villarreal CF (ESP)||FC Bayern München (GER)|
|Celtic FC (SCO)||FC Steaua Bucure?ti (ROU)|
|Aalborg BK (DEN)||ACF Fiorentina (ITA)|
|Group G||Group H|
|Arsenal FC (ENG)||Real Madrid CF (ESP)|
|FC Porto (POR)||Juventus (ITA)|
|Fenerbahçe SK (TUR)||FC Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)||FC BATE Borisov (BLR)|