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A Complete Guide To The Final 16 Teams Of The Champions League

UCL-Draw

Manchester United and Arsenal, the only two remaining English sides, will be looking to avoid the big guns in the draw for the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, which takes place in Nyon (Switzerland) on Thursday 10:30am GMT.

Manchester United qualified as Group H winners and so are seeded in the draw but they still could be drawn against the big sides, while Arsenal finished as runners-up and like United could face the top guns especially Barcelona (third time in the past four seasons) in the knockout stages. On the other hand, Chelsea became the first holders to be eliminated in the group stages, while Manchester City were completely knocked out of Europe as they ended bottom of their group.

Group Winners: Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Malaga, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Group Runners-Up: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray

Below we have a look at each of the above 16 teams in detail..

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Country: France
Coach:
Carlo Ancelotti
Key Player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Other Star Players: Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Javier Pastore
Rising Star: Marco Verratti
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 1995
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: PSG are one of the richest clubs in the world and have ambitions to win the Champions League this term. If striker Ibrahimovic can continue his superb form from the group stages, it might just happen.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

SCHALKE 04

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jens Keller
Key Player: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Other Star Players: Benedikt Howedes, Lewis Holtby & Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Rising Star: Julian Draxler
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Galatasary, Valencia, Celtic, Real Madrid
Chances: The Germans were unbeaten through their group which consisted the likes of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier, which shows they are not a team to be taken for granted. One their day they could upset the big guns.
Prediction: Round of 16

MALAGA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Manuel Pellengrini
Key Player: Isco
Other Star Players: Joaquin, Martin Demichelis & Eliseu
Rising Star: Francisco Portillo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Debutants
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: Have been very impressive so far in their debut season in the Champions League, but their inexperience in the competition may prove costly in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jurgen Klopp
Key Player: Marco Reus
Other Star Players: Roberto Lewandowski, Mats Hummels & Mario Gotze
Rising Star: Moritz Leitner
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1997
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Bundesliga champions have very much caught the eye in the group stages after finishing at top of the Group of Death and are the team to beat. Considered as the dark horses for the title.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

JUVENTUS

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Antonio Conte
Key Player: Arturo Vidal
Other Star Players: Andrea Pirlo, Gianluigi Buffon & Giorgio Chiellini
Rising Star: Paul Pogba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1985, 1996
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray
Chances: The reigning Serie A champions remained unbeaten in the group stages and topped their group by winning on the final matchday. The Italians are expected to step it up when the competition resumes in February.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

BAYERN MUNICH

Country: Germany
Coach:
 Jupp Heynckes
Key Player: Franck Ribery
Other Star Players: Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger & Philipp Lahm
Rising Star: David Alaba
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic,Galatasaray
Chances: The current Bundesliga leaders ended as the beaten finalists last season and will be looking to make amends for it. They have been in fine form so far and are one of the favourites to lift the trophy in May.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

BARCELONA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Tito Vilanova
Key Player: Lionel Messi
Other Star Players: Andres Iniesta, Xavi & Sergio Busquets
Rising Star: Christian Tello
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1992, 2006, 2009, 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Arsenal, Galatasaray, AC Milan
Chances: The Catalans were the pre-tournament favourites to win the competition and there has been very little so far to suggest that they won’t win it this term. Vilanova has done brilliantly since taking over from Pep Guardiola in the summer.
Prediction: Winners

MANCHESTER UNITED

Country: England
Coach:
 Sir Alex Ferguson
Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Other Star Players: Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic & Antonio Valencia
Rising Star: Rafael
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1968, 1999, 2008
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Porto, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Valencia, Celtic
Chances: Unlike last season, United have marched pretty easily into the knockout stages and with Van Persie & Rooney both in form they are a team to fear. Surely one of the contenders for the title.
Prediction: Semi-Finals

PORTO

Country: Portugal
Coach:
 Vitor Pereira
Key Player: Jackson Martinez
Other Star Players: Joao Moutinho, Lucho Gonzalez & Nicolas Otamendi
Rising Star: James Rodriguez
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winner 1987, 2004
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: The Portuguese champions have gone all the way before but its very unlikely it will happen again this season. They have a very good squad with some very talented players but its highly unlikely they will trouble the big teams.
Prediction: Round of 16

ARSENAL

Country: England
Coach:
 Arsene Wenger
Key Player: Santi Cazrola
Other Star Players: Jack Wilshere, Thomas Vermaelen & Lukas Podolski
Rising Star: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2006
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Malaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: The Gunners have had a stuttering season both domestically and in Europe – especially at home. They will need to improve a lot in the second half of the season if they want to be genuine title contenders.
Prediction: Quarter-Finals

AC MILAN

Country: Italy
Coach:
 Massimiliano Allegri
Key Player: Stephan El Shaarawy
Other Star Players: Philippe Mexes, Ricardo Montolivo & Kevin-Prince Boateng
Rising Star: Mattia De Sciglio
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1963, 1969, 1989, 1990, 1994, 2003, 2007
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Arsenal, the Rossoneri are struggling this term domestically and in Europe. They are not the force of the old, although their pedigree and experience in this competition means they should not be taken lightly.
Prediction: Round of 16

REAL MADRID

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Jose Mourinho
Key Player: Cristiano Ronaldo
Other Star Players: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos & Mesut Ozil
Rising Star: Raphael Varane
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Its been over a decade since Real Madrid last won the Champions League and the boss Mourinho has never appeared more determined to win the tournament for the club this season. With the team they have they are regarded as the joint favourites alongside Barca.
Prediction: Runners-Up

SHAKHTAR DONETSK

Country: Ukraine
Coach:
 Mircea Lucescu
Key Player: Luiz Adriano
Other Star Players: Darijo Srna, Willian & Fernandinho
Rising Star: Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Quarter-final 2011
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Malaga, Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Chances: Like Dortmund, Shakhtar are another side that have grabbed the attention of many in the group stages. They are the ones who dumped Chelsea out of the tournament and a side very few people would want to face in the knockout stages.
Prediction: Round of 16

VALENCIA

Country: Spain
Coach:
 Ernesto Valverde
Key Player: Roberto Soldado
Other Star Players: Jonas, Sofiane Feghouli & Adil Rami
Rising Star: Daniel Parejo
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Runner-up 2000, 2001
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Dortmund, Juventus, Manchester United
Chances: The Spaniards have been very impressive in the group stages with their star striker at the top of his game but do not appear equipped for a really extended run in competition this season.
Prediction: Round of 16

CELTIC

Country: Scotland
Coach:
 Neil Lennon
Key Player: Giorgos Samaras
Other Star Players: Fraser Forster, Victor Wanyama & Gary Hooper
Rising Star: Anthony Watt
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Winners 1967
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
Chances: Had little hopes of making it through to the knockout stages after being grouped with Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow but they did it. Anything else from now will be a bonus for the Scottish champions.
Prediction: Round of 16

GALATASARAY

Country: Turkey
Coach:
 Fatih Terim
Key Player: Burak Yilmaz
Other Star Players: Felipe Melo, Nordin Amrabat & Hamit Altintop
Rising Star: Semih Kaya
Previous best in CL/European Cup: Semi-finals 1989
Possible Round of 16 Opponents: PSG, Schalke, Málaga, Dortmund, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona
Chances: Snatched the second spot from CFR Cluj on the final matchday. Like Celtic, anything else they achieve from now on will be a bonus for the Turkish side and very few teams will fancy making the trip to the intimidating Turk Telekom Arena in Istanbul.
Prediction: Round of 16

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Manchester City v Manchester United Preview

City-Utd

The first Manchester derby of the season is here as Manchester City and Manchester United resume their rivalry on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium which could provide vital momentum in the title race.

Roberto Mancini’s City emerged victorious in both the Premier League encounters last season, winning 6-1 at Old Trafford and 1-0 at home before winning the title in the most dramatic style on the final day of the season.

The reigning champions have made a decent start to the defence of their crown and remain unbeaten after 15 games, but it is United who have a three-point advantage at the top of the table ahead of Sunday’s meeting. There have been indications that it is already a two-horse race for the Premier League title, with others rivals – Chelsea, Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool – struggling for consistency.

City’s participation in the Champions League and even Europe came to an end with a 1-0 loss to the Bundesliga champions – Borussia Dortmund in the midweek, while they were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton last weekend after a less than impressive performance. United, on the other, were also beaten 1-0 (at home) by CFR Cluj but had already won the group so Sir Alex Ferguson was able to rotate his squad. The 19-time league champions overcame Reading 4-3 last weekend and have been in superb form going forward all season, but it was yet another match in which they fell behind and this time not once but twice.

Ferguson will surely be demanding greater concentration against a team that has the best defensive record in the league and haven’t lost a single game at home since December 2010. The Scot says it would be one of United’s best-ever results if they can win on Sunday.

TEAM NEWS

Manchester City

City’s influential playmaker David Silva will be given every chance to prove his fitness ahead of the Manchester derby at home. The Spanish international missed the Champions League loss to Dortmund with a hamstring injury but remains in contention and is batting to take part on Sunday. Aleksandar Kolarov has been ruled out with a groin problem and Micah Richards (knee) is still sidelined. Gael Clichy (ankle) and Jack Rodwell (hamstring) both should be available for selection, while James Milner (hamstring) is likely to miss out.

Manchester United

Tom Cleverley is doubtful for Manchester United after limping out in the first half of the game against Cluj and will have a scan on his calf injury. Sir Alex Ferguson has also revealed that Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic (both) are struggling to be fit in time for the derby and may completely be ready for the Sunderland game. Antonio Valencia (thigh), Nani and Anderson (both hamstring) have been ruled out of the important clash, while the likes of Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra are set to return to the starting XI after being rested in midweek.

HEAD TO HEAD

Played – 164
Manchester City Wins – 46
Draw – 50
Manchester United Wins – 68

HEAD TO HEAD FIXTURES (LAST FIVE)

30-Apr-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
08-Jan-12 – FA Cup – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
23-Oct-11 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-6 Manchester City
07-Aug-12 – Community Shield – Manchester City 2-3 Manchester United
16-Apr-11 – FA Cup – Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United

FORM GUIDE

Manchester City – LDWDD
The Citizens have been unbeaten in the league so far this season and are just three points behind leaders Manchester United in the standings. But they have won just once and drawn thrice in their last five games in all competitions, with the only win coming at Wigan. A win on Sunday will take them above United in the league table on goal difference.

04-Dec-12 – Champions League – Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Manchester City
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Manchester City 1-1 Everton
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Wigan Athletic 0-2 Manchester City
25-Nov-12 – Premier League – Chelsea 0-0 Manchester City
21-Nov-12 – Champions League – Manchester City 1-1 Real Madrid

Manchester United – LWWWL
The Red Devils come into this match on the back of three consecutive wins in the Premier League and are sitting three points clear of their opponents at the top of the table. But they haven’t hit top gear and their defensive frailties have already been exposed. A win on Sunday will be massive one and will take them six points clear of City at the top.

05-Dec-12 – Champions League – Manchester United 0-1 CFR Cluj
01-Dec-12 – Premier League – Reading 3-4 Manchester United
28-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United
24-Nov-12 – Premier League – Manchester United 3-1 Queens Park Rangers
20-Nov-12 – Champions League – Galatasaray 1-0 Manchester United

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
The Belgium international scored the only goal in last season’s 1-0 win over United at the Etihad stadium – which won them the title – and was also as solid as rock at the back. The club captain is an inspirational presence for Roberto Mancini, and his match-up against Robin van Persie will see arguably two of the best players in their respective positions battling in a mouth-watering clash. How he copes with the Dutchman and what he can offer going forward will be the key to the outcome of the game, but one thing is for sure – if Kompany is on form, City are a very hard team to beat.

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
All eyes have been on Robin van Persie this season, and – even Javier Hernandez has gone past Wayne Rooney in the goal-scoring charts, but numbers alone do not tell the full influence of the 27-year-old on his side. With the Dutch forward being the target man of the strike force, Rooney will certainly drop deeper when United lose possession, and will try to create chances from further back in the final third. His work rate and distribution are very important in clashes like these, and with two strikes in his last league game at Reading, the England forward may be in line for a hot goal-scoring streak.

PROBABLE LINEUPS

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany (C), Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy; Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry; David Silva, Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri; Sergio Aguero.

City XI

City manager Roberto Mancini is likely to recall Yaya Toure back to the squad after resting him for the Champions League game against Dortmund, while David Silva may well recover from his hamstring injury in time for the big game. Joe Hart continues in goal as Vincent Kompany and Matija Nastasic will play ahead of him in centre of the defence. Aleksandar Kolarov (groin) has been ruled out, which means Gael Clichy could be rushed back after recovering from his ankle injury, but should he not be ready Joleon Lescott could slot in or Pablo Zabaleta could switch sides win Maicon coming in on the right side. Gareth Barry and Yaya Toure are expected to shield the defence as Silva, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri could play in a more advance role. Sergio Aguero is likely to lead the line for the hosts, with both Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko coming off the bench at some point during the game.

Manchester United (4-3-3): David De Gea; Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans, Patrice Evra; Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes; Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Ashley Young.

United XI

Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to continue with David De Gea in goal after the keeper made his return to first team action against CFR Cluj in the Champions League. Rafael, Rio Ferdinand, Jonny Evans and Patrice Evra are all expected to be back in defence after being rested during the midweek defeat at home. With Valencia and Nani both out, United are expected to play with the same formation (4-3-3) that won at Reading. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes will make the three-man midfield with Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young further up the pitch, playing on either side of Robin van Persie. Shinji Kagawa is expected to make the bench, while the inform Javier Hernandez will be an option should the visitors need a goal at some stage of the game.

OPTA FACTS

  • 3 – Man Utd have won 1-0 against City three times in their last six Premier League games at the Etihad.
  • 5 – There have been just five goals scored in the last six league meetings between City and United at the Etihad Stadium and no more than one in any of those games.
  • 10 – Robin van Persie is joint-top scorer in the league, with 10 goals alongside Demba Ba, Michu and Luis Suarez – Man City’s top scorer is Carlos Tevez with seven.
  • 36 – City (15) and United (21) have come from behind to win a combined 36 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season.
  • 21 – Man City and Man Utd have been awarded more penalties than any other side in the Premier League since the start of 2010-11.

REFEREE

Name – Martin Atkinson
Based – Yorkshire
Age – 41
Games – 18
Yellow Cards – 71
Red Cards – 1

MATCH ODDS

Manchester City 13/10, Draw 12/5, Manchester United 21/10

PREDICTION

As both teams have pulled away from the rest at the top of the table, it could turn out to be a very close affair decided by a moment of brilliance or a mistake. City will be looking to attack at home and take full advantage of United’s weaknesses at the back, while the Red Devils will hope to avoid conceding the first goal again but have also shown the determination and character to win games from losing positions. With the winner taking the top spot in the league table, both teams will look to get the 3 points. United have the firepower, but City have a very solid defence, making the hosts slight favourites. Expect United to get something out of this one, maybe a high scoring draw.

Predicted Score: Manchester City 2-2 Manchester United

Champions League Permutations

ucl-permutations

Just one round of fixtures remain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, with 13 teams having already qualified for the last-16. 

All the four Spanish teams are through to the knockout stages along with Arsenal & Manchester United, and with just three places up for grabs holders Chelsea are one of the six teams in contention on 4 and 5 December.

Qualified for the last 16: FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Arsenal, Malaga (GW), AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund (GW), Real Madrid, Shakhtar Dontesk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona (GW), Manchester United (GW).

GW – Group Winners 

Can still qualify: Juventus or Chelsea; Benfica or Celtic; Galatasaray or CFR Cluj (in each case losing team will play in the UEFA Europa League).

Confirmed in the UEFA Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, BATE Borisov.

Can qualify for UEFA Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg or Anderlecht; Ajax or Manchester City (in each case the losing team will be knocked out of Europe)

Knocked out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Montpellier, Nordsjælland, Spartak Moscow, LOSC Lille, Braga.

Here lets have a look the the permutations for all the eight groups..

4TH DECEMBER

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain (12pts) v FC Porto (13), Dinamo Zagreb (0) v Dynamo Kiev (4)

Porto have qualified with the most number of points after five games and will clinch the first place in the group win a win or a draw in Paris.

PSG are also through but must beat Porto to finish top.

Dynamo Kiev will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Dinamo Zagreb are out of Europe.

GROUP B

Olympiakos (6pts) v Arsenal (10), Montpellier (1) v Schalke 04 (11)

Schalke  are through and will win the group if they get all three points in France or Arsenal are denied a win in Greece due to their head-to-head superiority.

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages for the 13th year running but to top the group, they must win at Olympiakos and hope Montpellier don’t lose to Schalke.

Olympiakos will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

GROUP C

Malaga (11pts) v Anderlecht (4), AC Milan (8) v Zenit St Petersburg (4)

Malaga in their debut season in the Champions League have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over Milan.

Milan are through as runners-up of the group.

Zenit lie third on goal difference as they are level on head-to-head with Anderlecht, with whom they fighting for a place in the last-32 of the Europa League. If the two matches in the group end in a draw, the Russian wll qualify for the Europa League due to the superior goal difference.

Anderlecht will qualify for the Europa League knockout stages if they pick up more points than Zenit or overturn their goal difference.

GROUP D

Borussia Dortmund (11pts) v Manchester City (3), Real Madrid (8) v Ajax (4)

Dortmund have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over the reigning Spanish champions.

Real Madrid are through as runners-up, the 16th year in a row they have made it through their group.

Ajax will qualify for the Europa League if they win in Madrid or if Manchester City fail to win at Dortmund due to the Dutch champions’ head-to-head superiority.

Manchester City will qualify for the last-32 of the the Europa League if they win in Germany and Ajax fail to win in Spain.

5TH DECEMBER

GROUP E

Shakhtar Donetsk (10pts) v Juventus (9), Chelsea (7) v Nordsjælland (1)

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or draw in their final game.

Juventus will finish first with a win against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw even if Chelsea win against Nordsjælland.

Chelsea need to win their final game and hope the Italian champions lose as their head-to-head record is inferior to both teams above them.

Nordsjælland are out of Europe.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich (10pts) v BATE Borisov (6), LOSC Lille (3) v Valencia (10)

Bayern are through to the last-16 and top on head-to-head record ahead of Valencia. The Germans will win the group if they beat BATE or secure as many points as Valencia.

Valencia are through but must pick up more points than Bayern to finish first in the group.

BATE will finish third and enter the Europa League as their head-to-head record is superior to Lille’s.

Lille are out of Europe.

GROUP G

Barcelona (12pts) v Benfica (7), Celtic (7) v Spartak Moscow (3)

Barcelona are through as group winners

Benfica will be through with a win in Spain, or as long as they pick up the same number of points as Celtic, as they have the head-to-head superiority over the Scottish champions.

Celtic must pick up more points than Benfica to overtake them and make in through to the last-16.

Spartak are out of Europe.

GROUP H

Manchester United (12pts) v CFR Cluj (7), SC (3) v Galatasaray (7)

Manchester United are through as group winners.

Galatasaray are second ahead of Cluj on head-to-head record. They will qualify with a win in Portugal or as long as they pick up as many points as the Romanians.

Cluj must secure more points than Galatasaray to qualify for the Round of 16.

Braga are out of Europe.

Vidic Out For Eight Weeks – Key Fixtures He Will Miss And Possible Replacements

Manchester United have confirmed their captain Nemanja Vidic will miss eight weeks of football following knee surgery. The injury was discovered after the defender was forced to miss his team’s victory over Liverpool.

A statement on the club’s official site read:

“Nemanja Vidic has had a meniscus operation on his right knee and will be out for around eight weeks.

“Sir Alex, as a precautionary measure, rested Vidic at the weekend, after he complained of tightness in his knee, however, further medical investigation revealed the underlying problem.

“The central defender was operated on this week and will be sidelined for about eight weeks.”

This news comes in as a bitter disappointment for Sir Alex Ferguson, who will once again be without his top defender and captain for another two months, after the Serbian missed the final five months of the last season with a ruptured cruciate ligament in the same knee. The Manchester United boss is already without defenders Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, while like always for the past couple of season Rio Ferdinand’s fitness remains a concern.

Key Fixtures Vidic Will Miss

United welcome Andre Villas-Boas’ Tottenham to Old Trafford next in the Premier League this weekend, followed by a difficult trip to Newcastle. The Serbian is also scheduled to miss games against Chelsea (A) and Arsenal (H), but could make his comeback against the Premier League champions and the noisy neighbours Manchester City in the first Manchester derby of the season at the Etihad Stadium.

In the Champions League, the fans can expect the United skipper to sit out against Cluj in their final group game at Old Trafford. While he is certain to miss the away trips to Galatasaray and Cluj, as well as both the games against Braga.

Here is the list of fixtures, he is schedules to miss..

26-09 – League Cup – Newcastle (H)
29-09 – Premier League – Tottenham (H)
02-10 – Champions League – Cluj (A)
07-10 – Premier League – Newcastle (A)
20-10 – Premier League – Stoke (H)
23-10 – Champions League – Braga (H)
28-10 – Premier League – Chelsea (A)
31-10 – League Cup – Fourth Round
03-11 – Premier League – Arsenal (H)
07-11 – Champions League – Braga (A)
10-11 – Premier League – Aston Villa (A)
17-11 – Premier League – Norwich (H)
20-11 – Champions League – Galatasaray (A)
24-11 – Premier League – QPR (H)

Who Will Replace Him?

Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans will have a huge role to play now – like they did in the second half of the last season. Michael Carrick can also play in the centre-back position like he did at the start of the season against Everton and Fulham, but his performances were not up to the mark and didn’t look comfortable at all. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both are out since the start of the season and are expected to return after the international break in October. They both may be available for the home game against Stoke City. Ferguson has plenty of options available in the Under-21s squad – Scott Wootton, Michael Keane, Federic Veseli – but all of them lack the experience of playing in the Premier League and playing them against the big teams would be a huge gamble.

Options remain limited for the United boss and if Ferdinand or Evans were to sustain a long term injury in the near future, the Red Devils will be severely short of replacements in the heart of the defence. With key clashes just around the corner, the Old Trafford faithful will be hoping their captain a quick recovery.

A Complete Guide To The UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The draw for the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 group stage takes place today in Monaco, with 32 teams set to discover their fate in the world’s elite club competition.

Last season’s winners Chelsea will be hoping to become the first team to defend their European crown this season in London, since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, back in the old format of the European Cup. Standing in their way are the usual pre-tournament favourites Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are being tipped by many as serious contenders.

The draw will start at 16:45 BST and you can follow it LIVE on Sky Sports and BBC. In the meantime, here is a complete guide which will help you know everything you need to know.

WHERE WILL THE DRAW TAKE PLACE?

The UEFA Champions League group stage draw will take place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. It will also host the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award ceremony, along with the UEFA Europa League group stage draw which will take place tomorrow.

Champions League winners Chelsea and Europa League winners Atletico Madrid are already in town for their UEFA Super Cup match tomorrow night at the Stade Louis II, and both will give a pre-match press conferences today at the venue before the draw.

The draw will begin at 17:45 local time, which translates to 11:45 Eastern time and 21:15 Indian time.

UEFA president Michel Platini is sure to be present along with General Secretary Gianni Infantino (who will do the draw), the usual array of esteemed former players, an ambassador for the 2013 Wembley final and the representatives from all the 32 clubs in the draw.

WHAT ARE THE SEEDINGS?

The lineup and seedings are complete for today’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw. 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. Here are the seeding for all the 32 teams:

POT 1
Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan

POT 2
Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kiev

POT 3
Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Ajax, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray, Lille

POT 4
Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, Montpellier, Malaga, Nordsjaelland

HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?

The Champions League group stage comprises eight groups of four teams. 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 country 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 England cannot all be drawn in the same set.

Potential Group of Death – The champions of Spain, England, Italy and Germany could all be drawn in the same group. That means, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund could all end up in the same group.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT AND THE SCHEDULE?

The four teams in each group will face each other home and away. This means there will be a total of six “matchdays” in each group spread across a Tuesday and Wednesday. The top two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round (Round of 16). The third-place finishers in each group enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

From the last 16 untill the semi-finals, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis with the club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifing for the next round. Away goals and then penalties will be used to determine the winner if there is a draw. In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own group or country, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free.

The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 25th May 2013.

Group Stage, Matchday 1 – 18/19 Sep
Group Stage, Matchday 2 – 02/03 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 3 – 23/24 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 4 – 06/07 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 5 – 20/21 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 6 – 04/05 Dec

Round of 16, 1st Leg – 12/13 Feb & 19/20 Feb
Round of 16, 2nd Leg – 05/06 Mar & 12/13 Mar
Quarter-Finals, 1st Leg – 02/03 Apr
Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg – 09/10 Apr
Semi-Finals, 1st Leg – 23/24 Apr
Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg – 01/02 May

Final (Wembley Stadium) – 25 May

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Barcelone finished trophyless last season as they lost their League title to Real Madrid and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League by eventual winners Chelsea. But as always, they are the favourites with most bookmakers to win the Champions League this season under new boss Tito Vilanova.

Real Madrid are a close second, with Jose Mourinho hoping to win his first Champions League title with the Whites, while Manchester United and Manchester City are next in the line. Holders Chelsea are placed at 14/1 odds to defend their crown along with runners-up Bayern Munich.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain and Italian champions Juventus are priced as high as 18/1 by the bookies, while Arsenal, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are in the next group back.