Could City face Messi in the Champions League?
- Wed 24 Aug 2011, 1:36PM
- Posted by Chris Wildgoose
Could Lionel Messi and company really be bound for Etihad Stadium? Well, depending on the result of Thursday’s UEFA Champions’ League group stage draw in Monaco, anything is possible.
The draw takes place at 16.45 GMT with City involved in Europe’s top competition for the first time since losing to Fenerbahçe in October 1968.
Now the Blues face the mouth-watering prospect of pitting their wits against the cream of European football, with the first match taking place in mid- September.
Roberto Mancini’s team is one of 22 who made it through to the draw automatically following last season’s third-place finish in the Premier League.
Arsenal, the side the Blues edged into fourth spot on the final day of the 2010/11 campaign, will hope to join City by qualifying for the group stages against Udinese in Italy tonight. The Gunners lead 1-0 going into the second leg.
Should Arsenal progress, they will most likely join fellow English clubs Chelsea and Manchester United in Pot One – none of whom the Blues can face at this stage - leaving just five possible top seed opponents for City, who are in Pot Three.
Bayern Munich secured their passage to Pot One after beating FC Zurich 3-0 on aggregate, while 2010 winners Inter Milan, Portuguese champions Porto, nine time winners Real Madrid and current European champions Barcelona are all potential opposition for City.
There are several strong teams in Pot Four, too, with German side Borussia Dortmund, who won the competition in 1997 among the sides. Napoli are also in the fourth pot, while David Silva’s former club Valencia are in Pot Two, along with Villarreal.
City could face a tricky trip Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk, in what will hopefully not be a repeat of the last outing to Eastern Europe where Dynamo Kyiv ran out 2-0 winners back in March during the Blues Europa League campaign.
A potential ‘group of death’ is Barcelona, AC Milan, City and Borussia Dortmund, whereas an easier route for Mancini’s team would see City face Porto, CSKA Moscow and FC Romanian outfit Oţelul Galaţi.
We’ll bring you a detailed lowdown on the three teams the Blues will play in the Champions League group stage plus the dates, kick-off times and ticket news in the days following the draw.