A closer look at Arsenal's Champions League Group opponents

30 August 2013 09:14

With Arsenals coefficient placing them in Pot One alongside Europes heavyweights, Gunners fans hoped for a favorable draw in the Champions League. That is far from the case: Arsene Wengers men are in a group of discomfort and will battle it out with last years finalists Borrussia Dortmund, ambitious Napoli and French side Marseille.

Here is a brief look at the three teams; and their key players that the The Gunners will face home and away:

Borussia Dortmund:

Only a Bayern Munich team dominant on all fronts prevented Borussia from lifting Europes top-club competition trophy. Despite losing Mario Gotze to their rivals, they have kept hold of prolific Pole Robert Lewandowski. The summer aquisitions of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Shaktar Donetsk and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from St. Ettiene have further strengthened Dortmunds ranks; the latter scored a hatrick on his Bundesliga debut. Matt Hummels is rock solid at the back, and in German Marco Reus, Borussia have a wonderful talent. Jurgen Klopps men put both Real Madrid and Manchester City to the sword in last seasons campaign; and they will be confident in adding Arsenal to their list of scalps and finishing top of Group F. Their vociferous home support is as loud as from the stands in Celtic Park, and the fans make the Westfalenstadion a daunting place to come to.


Napoli pipped AC Milan to 2nd spot behind Juventus in Serie A last season, and they will be quietly confident of qualifying for the last-16 of the Champions League. With Rafa Benitez at the helm, the Italians have a manager with a great European pedigree in the Spaniard, he won the competition with Liverpool in 2005. Keeper' Pepe Reina has re-aqquainted himself with former boss Benitez, joining him on loan from Liverpool. Paris St. Germain have swooped for their star striker Edison Cavani, but have spent the money well, bringing in former Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain from Real Madrid alongside Jose Callejon and Raul Albiol. Slovakian Marik Hamsik is key to Napolis chances too, the midfielder was influential in Napolis 2011-12 CL campaign, in which they progressed from a tough group that included Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Could Higuian haunt Arsenal? Maybe he will leave Arsene Wenger with regrets of not swooping for the Argentinian before Napoli came calling.


Last but not least is French team Marseille, who finished a distant second from money-bags PSG in Ligue One. Many will see them as the weakest team of the four in Group F. But the Champions League throws up many a suprises and in the group stages anything can happen, so Marseille should be confident of punching above their weight. The French side don't have the marquee names that the other three possess, but with a strong French contignet they'll have good team spirit. Marseille where in Arsenals group in the 2011-12 campaign, and frustrated them with a 0-0 draw at the Emirates. Goalkeeper' Steve Mandana is a stalwart and is key to Marseilles chances.


Source: DSG