Bayern Munich take on Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov in Champions League Group F

BAYERN
MUNICH

SEASON 2011-12
League:
Runners-up
Europe: Champions League Finalists

Coach: Jupp Heynckes

Appointed: 2011

Stadium:
Allianz Arena

Capacity:
69,901

Best Champions League performance:
Winners four times (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001)

THE DANGER MAN
Arjen Robben

When fit, the Dutch winger is one of the very best players in the world, and certainly the most dangerous in Jupp Heynckes’ squad. Robben carried his team to the final two seasons ago, including stunning goals against Fiorentina and Manchester United, and if he remains healthy, he could set the tournament alight again in 2012-13.

VALENCIA

SEASON 2011-12
League:
Third
Europe: Champions League group stage; Europa League semi-finals

Manager: Mauricio Pellegrino

Appointed: 2012

Stadium:
Mestalla

Capacity:
55,000

Best Champions League performance:
Finalists (1999-2000, 2000-2001)

THE DANGER MAN
Roberto Soldado

Soldado joined Valencia in 2010 and has since hit 55 goals in 97 games for his hometown club, including two in as many matches this term. Valencia were knocked out in the group stages of the Champions League last season as Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen progressed, and even though they advanced to the semi-finals of the Europa League, the Spanish side will look to Soldado (who recently rejected a move to Tottenham and wants to spend the rest of his career at Mestalla) to fire them to greater things in Europe this time around.

LILLE

SEASON 2011-12
League:
Third
Europe: Champions League group stage

Manager: Rudi Garcia

Appointed: 2008

Stadium:
Grand Stade Lille Metropole

Capacity:
50,186

Best Champions League performance:
Round of 16 (2007)

THE DANGER MAN
Salomon Kalou

Not surprisingly, Kalou has netted for his new club already despite having only sealed a move to the French top flight in July.

Boasting a wealth of European experience from his time with English champions Chelsea, the Ivorian’s pacey runs and guile on the ball will be called upon to ensure the Ligue 1 side create plenty of chances on Europe’s biggest stage.

BATE BORISOV

SEASON 2011-12
League:
Champions
Europe: Champions League group stages

Manager: Viktor Goncharenko

Appointed: 2007

Stadium: Dinamo Minsk (home stadium unsuitable for European matches)

Capacity: 41,040

Best Champions League performance: Group Stages (2008-09, 2011-12)

THE DANGER MAN
Aliaksandr Hleb

The 31-year-old is without a doubt the most famous Belorussian player of the 21st century, and returned to the club where he started his professional career this summer.

Hleb has enjoyed spells at big clubs such as Stuttgart, Arsenal and Barcelona, and even though he’s no longer the player he was during his peak years, the attacking midfielder is still a force to be reckoned with.

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Beckenbauer unfazed by Javi Martinez's €40m transfer fee

Franz Beckenbauer - Javi Martínez

Franz Beckenbauer – Javi Martínez

West Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer is not too worried about Bayern Munich’s big investment to lure Javi Martinez away from Athletic Bilbao.

The Spain international signed a five-year deal with the Bundesliga giants on Wednesday to complete his €40 million move, despite the likes of Steffen Effenberg to question whether the deal represents value for money.

However, the 66-year-old feels his former club are better off spending cash to improve their squad rather than leave it in a bank account.

“Why would you leave the money on the fixed deposit account, since you hardly get any interest for it anyway,” Beckenbauer was quoted as saying by Bild.

“I am very curious about this purchase. It used to be that you only paid so much money for a striker, while defensive players were brought up from the youth system. Times have changed.”

Beckenbauer had previously admitted that he had never heard of the 23-year-old, who can play in either midfield or defence.

European giants descend on Monaco for Champions League draw

Following the conclusion of the Champions League play-offs on Wednesday evening, all 32 teams that will take part in the group stage of European club football’s elite competition are now known, and they will be desperate to find out who they will be pitted against during Thursday evening’s draw in Monaco.

The draw, which is scheduled to start at 17:45CET, will feature an impressive 12 previous winners of the competition, as well as three teams making their debut at the highest level.

All of the top seeded teams except Arsenal have lifted the trophy on at least one occasion, and Manchester United are even making a record 18th appearance in the 21st edition of the Champions League. Meanwhile, Montpellier, Nordsjaelland and Malaga are all set to make their bow in the tournament.

Their status as rookies does not mean that these teams go into the competition without ambition, though, as was illustrated by Boquerones winger Joaquin’s words.

“As for the group stage draw, we know that all rivals will be tough but we have qualified and are determined to enjoy the competition and go as far as we can,” the Spaniard remarked.

Of the 32 teams that featured in last year’s edition of the competition, 20 have once again managed to reach the group stages this term.

Goal.com will bring you all the coverage you need as we find out how the group stages in Europe’s elite club competition will look between now and December.

Click here to follow all the coverage of the draw, which will take place from 17:00BST on Thursday.

Champions League draw: Paris Saint-Germain in Pot 3, Manchester City in Pot 2 and more…

The Champions League group stage draw will take place at 17:45CET on Thursday August 30 2012, LIVE right here on Goal.com. Here we discover just who could face whom as Europe’s premier club competition gets into full swing…

How it works

The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the Uefa coefficients, which are in turn determined by a mixture of the team’s own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country’s league.

The Champions League group stage comprises eight pools of four teams: consequently, a team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not “one at a time”: that is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same national association cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two ‘sets’ of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from Spain cannot all be drawn in the same set.

Pots

The Champions League Group Stage pots for 2012-13 are as follows: