The UEFA Champions League group stage draws have been made, with the competition set to start on October 20th 2020 and the group stages concluding on December 9th 2020.
Manchester City have been drawn into Group C. Our group in full:
Manchester City (ENG)
Overall, this is a lovely draw for the Blues, as I am sure many fans of the club will agree, but what can we make of the other teams in our group?
FC Porto (POR):
Porto were drawn as the team from Pot 1 in our group which many City fans will be very happy with as they are arguably one of the easiest teams from that Pot.
Porto finished as the Champions of Primeira Liga ahead of Benfica by five points- automatically qualifying them for the Champions League, winning 26 of their 34 matches in the division. They also won the Taça de Portugal, beating Benfica in the final. In last year’s Champions League, new boys Krasnodar knocked them out of the qualifiers on away goals, leaving the current Portuguese champions in the Europa League. They topped their group, qualifying for the next round along with Rangers (SCO), but were eliminated from the competition in the Round of 32 by Bayer Leverkusen (GER).
Their top goal scorer for the 2019-20 season was Brazilian Fancisco Soares, who racked up 19 goals in all competitions, three of these being in the Europa League. Many fans will recognise three times Champions League winner Pepe who has played as a centre-back for Porto since last year.
A team that should not worry us too much, but one that, nonetheless, should not be underestimated.
The team drawn in our group in Pot 3 is Olympiacos, again a draw City will not be disappointed with.
Olympiacos won the Greek Super League 2019/20 very convincingly, beating the second placed team by 18 points and losing just one game in the season. They did the double by also winning the Greek Cup. They faced a very tough Champions League group which contained the winners Bayern Munich (GER) and Tottenham Hotspur (ENG). They finished third in the group, placing them in the Europa League. That left them drawn against Arsenal (ENG) in the round of 32 and it came as a shock to many when they beat the former Premier League Giants. In the round of 16 they came up against another English team- Wolverhampton Wanderers but lost 2-1 on aggregate.
The player to watch out for when we come face-to-face with the Greek Champions is Youssef El-Arabi who scored an impressive 27 goals in all competitions last season. He managed an impressive five goals in the Champions League too, considering they only played in the group stage of the competition.
They have proved they can beat big English teams, but with City having shored up their defensive lines, hopefully we can keep their top goal scorer at bay.
Olympique de Marseille (FRA):
It could be argued we drew the worst team in Pot 4; however, we should still be topping that group and at the very least easily progressing to the round of 16.
Due to the current pandemic, Ligue 1 did not finish the 2019/20 season and called the standings as they were without completing all fixtures. This left Marseille comfortably second in the league behind Paris Saint-Germain. They did not compete in Europe at all last season after missing out on Europa League spot by one place, finishing fifth in the league (2018/19) behind Saint-Étienne. The last time Marseille competed in the Champions League was the 2013-2014 season. However, they impressed two years ago in the Europa League by finishing second to Atlético Madrid, losing 3-0 in the final.
As of matches played until March 2020 (due to the early end of the Ligue 1 season), their top goal scorer was Dimitri Payet with a tally of 12. Fans of City will of course remember him playing in the Premier League for West Ham United from 2015-2017 where he scored 11 goals in 48 appearances for the Hammers.
Again, not a team we should fear, and it is fair to say we will be expected to top the group and progress comfortably.
What do you make of our group stage draw Blues?