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Liverpool Drawn In Champions League Group B With Real Madrid, FC Basel, and Ludogorets

Liverpool have learned their Champions League fate, and... it's not that bad, actually.

Mike Hewitt

The Champions League draw is very long and very boring, but it's done now, and we know who Liverpool will be facing in the Group Stage.

Liverpool were drawn in to Group B, which means they'll be facing defending Champions League winner Real Madrid, as well as Switzerland's FC Basel and Bulgarian league champions Ludogorets, who will be participating in the Group Stage for the first time.

It's a very manageable group, and much less painful than most Liverpool fans were expecting. Real Madrid will obviously be brutally tough opponents, but while Basel are a talented squad, Liverpool are the much better side. As for Ludogorets... well, they're just happy to be here. All respect for what they've accomplished*, but they're by far the weakest team in the group.

If Liverpool can pip a win or a couple of draws from Real Madrid, beat Ludogorets twice, and beat Basel at home, they'll be in magnificent shape in terms of qualifying for the knockout rounds. It's certainly a much better situation than it could have been, with several absolutely brutal groups in the draw before Liverpool were pulled out of the third pot.

Elsewhere in England, Arsenal were handed a tough task in Group D. They'll face Borussia Dortmund in their group for the second straight year, and Galatasaray will be a tough opponent as well. Anderlecht rounds out the group, and while it's been awhile since they've been in the group stage, the Belgian side should not be taken too lightly.

Chelsea landed in Group G with Schalke from Germany, as well as Sporting Lisbon and Maribor. That should be a fairly straightforward group for Mourinho's boys, but don't be shocked if the Portuguese side causes some chaos, since they're better than they're generally given credit for.

Manchester City landed in what might wind up as the most entertaining group of them all. They're in Group E, set up with Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, and AS Roma. That's a lot of talent in that group, and those matches will be must-watch viewing as long as Liverpool aren't playing at the same time. Bayern should win the group, but it could end up in a bunch of different ways.

The next few months are about to get a lot more interesting for Liverpool fans. Champions League nights at Anfield have been sorely missed, and getting to test the squad against the best will be exciting. How the games and squad are managed for these extra matches will be interesting to watch play out, as will seeing how Brendan Rodgers handles the biggest stage of his career.

Buckle up, boys and girls. This is gonna get wild.

*Ludogorets actually qualified after beating Steaua Bucharest in a penalty shootout in yesterday's playoff qualifying second leg. While that's remarkable on its own, that pales in comparison to *how* they won it: their goalkeeper was sent off late in extra time and they were out of subs, so Ludogorets' manager put defender Cosmin Moti in goal, and not only did he save a pair of penalties, he scored one of his own.

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