Liverpool have it easy, Man City face Bayern and CSK Moscow in Champions League
CLASH OF GIANTS: Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery (far right) will meet Man City's Pablo Zabaleta again. PHOTO: CARL RECINE/ACTION IMAGES
Fears that a third-pot seeding would ruin Liverpool's return to the Champions League proved misplaced as the Reds landed a group they should qualify from with a degree of comfort.
At the Champions League draw in Monaco yesterday, Brendan Rodgers' side were drawn with holders Real Madrid, but matches against Basel and Bulgarian underdogs Ludogorets Razgrad should not present a serious challenge.
All those crossed fingers in Merseyside did the trick.
Instead, it was Manchester City who found themselves with the horror draw.
Once again, they will have to play Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich.
Once again, they will have to face CSKA Moscow, possibly in the cold winter months.
And, to make matters worse, they ended up with the most difficult team in the fourth pot, the resurgent Roma.
Manuel Pellegrini will have his work cut out here.
There was no chance of old acquaintance being forgot elsewhere as the cream of England and Germany all found themselves with familiar foes.
Arsenal met their old friends Borussia Dortmund in Group D and Chelsea will once again face Schalke in Group G.
Arsenal will not relish another trip to Istanbul, after the trouble they had overcoming Besiktas in the qualifying round but, with Anderlecht as the fourth team in the group, they will know that this is hardly a Group of Death.
Even with the injury to Olivier Giroud, it would be a surprise if Arsenal failed to progress.
It would be a miracle if Chelsea slipped up. Schalke have had another wobbly start to the season in Germany and are the most beatable of the German teams.
Sporting Lisbon are not the force they once were, but do have a Luis Nani in their ranks, and Maribor, conquerors of a miserable Celtic side.
Jose Mourinho should have that group sealed by match four.
Group H looked like the easiest group, but no English teams were granted that sort of let-off. Portuguese giants Porto will meet a Shakhtar Donetsk side torn apart by the escalating military crisis in Ukraine.
Athletic Bilbao and BATE Borisov make up the numbers, both with an equal chance of what must have seemed an unlikely progression before the draw was announced.
It was a very different story in Group F where Barcelona, PSG and Ajax Amsterdam will take turns feasting on poor APOEL Nicosia.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has another chance to wreak revenge on his old club Ajax, but you have to feel a little sorry for the Dutch champions, who always seem to end up in one of the toughest groups.
- Atletico Madrid
- Real Madrid
- FC Basel
- Ludogorets Razgrad
- Zenit St Petersburg
- Bayer Leverkusen
- Borussia Dortmund
- Bayern Munich
- Man City
- CSKA Moscow
- AS Roma
- Ajax Amsterdam
- APOEL Nicosia
- Schalke 04
- Sporting Lisbon
- Shakhtar Donetsk
- Athletic Bilbao
- BATE Borisov