Mixed fortunes for English in Champions League draw

Click to follow
The Independent Football

The three English clubs in the Champions League face very different tasks as they battle to qualify for the final stages.

The three English clubs in the Champions League face very different tasks as they battle to qualify for the final stages.

Manchester United have been drawn in the easiest group - but Leeds face another tough struggle while Arsenal must trek to the cold of a Moscow winter.

Leeds face defending champion and record eight-time winner Real Madrid, Italian giants Lazio, and group winner Anderlecht in the toughest second round group of the Champions Cup.

Friday's draw in Geneva put the defending champions into what appeared easily the strongest group.

Manchester United must play last season's runner up Valencia, Panathinaikos of Greece and Austria's Sturm Graz, a surprise group winner.

Arsenal are grouped with Bayern Munich, a three-time winner of the title, Spartak Moscow and Lyon.

In the final group five-time champion AC Milan faces Spanish titlist Deportino de La Coruna, Paris Saint Germain and Turkey's Galatasaray, last season's winner of the UEFA Cup.

The first round of games will be November 21 and 22 and Arsenal begins with a long trip to Moscow, just two weeks after going to Ukraine to meet Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners, who had already clinched a place in the second round by that stage, lost that game 3-0 and several British papers reported that some of the players seemed reluctant to make the journey for was effectively a meaningless game for the English team.

"Moscow will be very cold," said Arsenal vice president David Dein. "We have just come back from Donetsk which also was very cold. Moscow won't be easy but we think we are going to do well.

"The last time we played Spartak Moscow was in 1982 when we lost 8-4 on aggregate so we have something to prove."

The draw also means that Lazio's Sven-Goran Eriksson, who is to take over as coach of the England national team some time next year, must try to eliminate an English Club, Leeds United.

David O'Leary's Leeds hasn't had it easy in either round. In round one it faced powerhouses AC Milan and Barcelona and started with a 4-0 loss to the Spanish club. But Barcelona faded after that and wound up eliminated as Leeds went through as runner up to Milan.

The draw also kept Galatasaray from the three English teams. When Leeds went to Istanbul in last season's UEFA Cup semifinal two of its fans were stabbed to death and several Turks face trial in connection with their deaths.

Group A Valencia Sturm Graz Man Utd Panathinaikos

Group B AC Milan Deportivo la Coruna Paris Saint Germain Galatasary

Group C Bayern Munich Arsenal Spartak Moscow Lyon

Group D Real Madrid Anderlecht Lazio Leeds Utd