Chelsea, Manchester United find fortune

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Fortunate draws left Chelsea and Manchester United as clear favorites in their UEFA Champions League groups, while Manchester City and Arsenal were placed with European powers during today’s group stage draw in Monaco.

Manchester United, returning to the Champions League after a one-year absence, took advantage of UEFA’s new format that seeded the winners of Europe’s top eight leagues. As a result, United, whose coefficient ranking put them in the second pot drawn, were placed into Group C with Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven. CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg round out a quartet that will leave Louis van Gaal’s team favorites to move into the knockout round.

SEE MORE: How Manchester United have fared in UEFA Champions League.

Chelsea, one of the first teams drawn from pot one, will face one of Jose Mourinho’s former teams, Portuguese runners up Porto. They’re joined by the champions of Ukraine and Isreal, Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv, in Group G – one of the competition’s easier groups.

Arsenal did not share Chelsea and United’s fortune, though the Gunners will still be expected to advance from Group F. Five-time champions Bayern Munich will be favored to top the group, while Olympiacos and Dynamo Zagreb completed the foursome.

Manchester City received the most difficult route of England’s Champions League qualifiers. Drawn out of the second pot, City was placed into Group D with one of last year’s finalists, Juventus. Europa League champions Sevilla were pulled from the third pot, with Germany’s Borussia Moenchengladbach completing one of the competition’s deepest groups.

Defending champions Barcelona avoided major obstacles, though Bayer Leverkusen and Roma were drawn into one of the competition’s most interesting battles for second place. Belarusian champion BATE Borisov is the fourth team in Group E.

SEE MORE: Valencia eliminate Monaco, become fifth Spanish club in Champions League group stage [VIDEO].

Spain’s other giant, Real Madrid, will have a more difficult route than their arch rivals, having been draw into Group A with Paris Saint-Germain and Shakhtar Donetsk. Swedish champions Malmo have the misfortunate of being the fourth team in a top-heavy group.

Another of Madrid’s rivals, Atletico, were the day’s big winners. Drawn out of the second pot, Atleti joined Portuguese champions Benfica in Group C, a quartet that was completed by Turkish champions Galatasaray and Kazakhstan’s Astana.

The competition’s final group projects to be one of its most balanced. Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg drew Valencia in Group H, where they were joined by French runners up Lyon and Belgian champions Gent.

Champions League group play begins on Sept. 15.

Full draw

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain (France), Real Madrid (Spain), Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Malmo (Sweden)

Group B: PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Manchester United (England), CSKA Moscow (Russia), Wolfsburg (Germany)

Group C: Benfica (Portugal), Atletico Madrid (Spain), Galatasaray (Turkey), Astana (Kazakhstan)

Group D: Juventus (Italy), Manchester City (England), Sevilla (Spain), Borussia Moechengladback (Germany)

Group E: Barcelona (Spain), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), Roma (Italy), BATE Borisov (Belarus)

Group F: Bayern Munich (Germany), Arsenal (England), Olympiacos (Greece), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Group G: Chelsea (England), Porto (Portugal), Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Group H: Zenit Saint Petersburg (Russia), Valencia (Spain), Lyon (France), Gent (Belgium)

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