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Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzen
The only happier man on the night of than draw than Barca's Pep Guardiola might have been Sir Alex Ferguson. Barcelona does, after all, have to play AC Milan twice in this section. However one can argue that those matches will merely serve as a warm-up for the eventual knockout stage run by the defending champions.
Barcelona is better than ever ... at least until the wheels fall off through sheer exhaustion. Keep in mind that the main players on this squad play far more often than most because they form the nucleus of the Spanish national team, and this grind is starting to catch up with them. Still, the addition of Cesc Fabregas means more rest for Xavi; the addition of Alexis Sanchez means some rest for David Villa; the development of Jonathan dos Santos could even mean occasional minutes off for Lionel Messi or Andres Iniesta.
AC Milan will be irked to have been seeded below city rival Inter even though they are the current Serie A champs. That's based on the fact that recent history has been kinder to Inter and could provide some added motivation for Milan to take this section really seriously. Otherwise, having looked at this "challenge" they might well be tempted to figure there's no way not to qualify.
BATE Borisov looked turgid against Sturm Graz in qualifying; Viktoria Plzen came close to blowing a sure thing at home against Copenhagen in their own qualifier. One of them will reach the Europa League ... but does anybody really care which one?
Our prediction: Barcelona are group winners; AC Milan, are runners-up. Viktoria Plzen go into the Europa League.