October 7, 2008

UEFA Cup Draw Analysis

Group A

Manchester City
Racing Santander

Schalke and Manchester City should make it through easily. I'm going to give the last berth to Racing since they and PSG are in roughly the same place in their domestic tables and La Liga, as we all know, is a hell of a lot harder than Ligue 1. Oh, and Twente are disqualified on account of Steve McClaren being their manager.

Group B

Hertha Berlin
Metalist Kharkiv

The top three clubs in this group spend just as much time in Champions League, so I'm going to be boring and say they advance to the knockout rounds. But before we move on, I have a question for the Bundesliga aficionados: why does Berlin not have a stronger team? Munich, Bremen, Stuttgart, and even Hamburg have experienced more success over the past decade than Berlin. What gives?

Group C

Standard Liege

Probably tied with Group F (who you will see soon) for Group of Death status. It's just a shame Racing Santander couldn't have found their way into this group and taken Partizan's place. Sampdoria's current form gives me the opportunity to not automatically throw in the top three teams. Standard Liege take their place at the knockout rounds, especially given their Champions League qualifier against Liverpool.

Group D

Spartak Moscow
Dinamo Zagreb
NEC Nijmegen

Tottenham have received a draw they could potentially escape. Luka Modric will get to face his old club, Dinamo Zagreb, which is always fun. I hope that one's in Croatia. Udinese should walk in this one with no problem. I think the final spot comes down to which team in the Spartak/Dinamo match gets home field. That's code for "I have no idea what's going on."

Group E

AC Milan

I'm still rejoicing over AC Milan's demotion to the UEFA Cup. I just don't like them. They'll advance past the group stage, though, along with Heerenveen and Portsmouth. Crouch and Defoe have formed the classic big man/small man forward partnership and will only get better as the season progresses.

Group F

Slavia Prague
Aston Villa
MSK Zilina

I'm not just saying this because it's Villa, but why are all these Premier League teams in the fourth pool? Oh well, I still think they'll make it, but just barely. Hamburg is assuredly in since they're three points clear of the rest of Bundesliga. Ajax, OUT. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is going to be on everyone's January wish list at the rate his team is falling. Slavia Prague get the final spot.

Group G

Club Brugge
FC Kobenhavn

Umm, yeah, this group hardly matters. Valencia rock; we all know that. Club Brugge would go to the top of the Belgian league if they were to win their game in hand...but it's Belgium. Rosenborg and FC Kobenhavn (Copenhagen, obv) are from Scandanavia, soooooo, whatever. And finally, Saint-Etienne isn't even in the top half of the Ligue 1 table right now. Let's go Valencia, Brugge and Kobenhavn just so nobody has to travel to Norway in February.

Group H

CSKA Moscow
Deportivo La Coruna
AS Nancy-Lorraine
Lech Poznan

If Groups C and F are the Groups of Death, then I hereby declare Group H the Group of Cupcakes. Let's start from the bottom. Lech Poznan are a Polish side, so they've got about a 0.00002% chance anyway. AS Nancy-Lorraine is even further down the French table than Saint-Etienne. Feyenoord wouldn't even qualify for the Intertoto Cup playoffs if the Dutch season ended today. Deportivo are firmly in the middle of the La Liga table. CSKA Moscow is the only team in this group that's playing well at all right now, currently second in the Russian leagues, so they're in by default. I guess I'll go with Deportivo and Feyenoord as the final two teams because it just doesn't matter. Why couldn't Villa have gotten in this group?

Thanks for the image, Wikipedia!

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