What can we make of the Champions League and Europa League draw results for Bundesliga clubs?
The Champions League and Europa League draws have been completed – the German teams have tough tasks on their hands if they are to win either European tournament.
In the inaugural Champions League season in 1992-93, Marseille won the competition. The stadium they won the final on was the Olympiastadion, precisely Bayern’s former stadium in Munich. Nowadays, the stadium is called the Allianz Arena and Bayern features there every other week and sometimes in midweek too.
The sides have never faced each other in the history of the competition and have been paired with each other for the first time. Bayern players are perhaps relieved at avoiding Barcelona and Real Madrid but nothing can be taken for granted. Two teams that have beaten Bayern soundly in recent memory were defeated by Marseille- Dortmund and Inter won’t have fond memories of the French.
Philipp Lahm was relieved to avoid the Spanish guns but Franck Ribery was quick to point out the attacking threat of the French side. He also pointed out that 60,000 supporters will be present at the Stade Velodrome in the first leg. Bayern was drawn in the same section as Apoel, the tournaments surprise package and Real Madrid.
In the Europa League, the draw was certainly not kind to either Hanover or Schalke. Schalke will take on the conquerors of Manchester United, Athletic Bilbao. United embarrassed Schalke in the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. Thus, taking on United’s conquerors seems like a daunting task.
However, no result is surprising when it comes to Schalke. Down and out with just one half to play against Twente, Schalke scored three in the second half on Thursday to win the tie 4-2 on aggregate. Schalke vs. Bilbao will be a brilliant spectacle whatever the final outcome considering the swagger with which both teams play.
If Schalke does win, they will play the winner of the match between Sporting Clube de Portugal and Metalist Kharkiv. Sporting, as we know, took Manchester City out. So the entire draw is a tough one for the side from the Ruhr.
Hanover meanwhile was handed a meeting with the winners of the competition in 2010, Atletico Madrid. Hanover absolutely put Standard Liege to the sword on Thursday and beat them 4-0, winning the tie 6-2 on aggregate. Their task is even harder than the one facing Schalke if they do go through to the semi-finals.
Hanover is in the same portion of the draw as AZ Alkmaar and Valencia. Valencia is the side in Spain that finishes consistently in the top four in Spain every season and would have won more league titles than they have had it not been for Barca and Real. AZ took out Udinese, which is of course quite an achievement.
As Hanover and Schalke have been placed on different ends of the draw, we might have two clubs from Germany in the final in Bucharest in May. The Champions League final, meanwhile, as we all know, will be held in Munich. All eyes will be on Bayern- but they have plenty of tweaks to make before they can even think about achieving such a feat- namely, playing in the final in their own backyard.
What do you think of the draw? Let me hear your thoughts.