American Exports: Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan handed tough tasks in UEFA Champions League
AMSTERDAM – The next round of the UEFA Champions League was drawn on Thursday evening, with both Schalke's Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan of Anderlecht learning their group stage assignments.
Jones (pictured at right) and the Miners are in Group E full of familiar foes. Their main competition, 2012 winners Chelsea, also faced pool mates Basel and Steaua Bucharest on their way to last year's Europa League crown.
Schalke played the Blues twice in the 2007 group stage of this tournament, logging a scoreless home draw and a 2-0 loss at Stamford Bridge. They also hosted a 1-1 UEFA Cup draw with Basel in 2004 and were in a Europa League group with Steaua two years ago. Jones played in the 2-1 victory, but missed out on the 0-0 away draw between the two.
Meanwhile, Kljestan (above) and the Mauves have been drawn to face the challenging trio of Paris Saint-Germain, 2013 Europa league runners-up Benfica and Greek power Olympiacos.
Anderlecht have played two-time European champions Benfica eight times in past UEFA tourneys, notching an even 3-3-2 split. The home team has never lost in their meetings, earning six wins and two draws. The defending Belgian champs have never played big spenders PSG, but they split a 1974 European Cup duel with Olympiacos, with each side winning big at home.
Matchday 1 for this year's Champions League group phase arrives on September 17-18.
Group A: Manchester United (ENG), Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR), Bayer Leverkusen (GER), Real Sociedad (SPA)
Group B: Real Madrid (SPA), Juventus (ITA), Galatasaray (TUR), FC Copenhagen (DEN)
Group C: Benfica (POR), Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Olympiacos (GRE), Anderlecht (BEL)
Group D: Bayern Munich (GER), CSKA Moscow (RUS), Manchester City (ENG), Viktoria Plzen (CZE)
Group E: Chelsea (ENG), Schalke 04 (GER), Basel (SWI), Steaua Bucharest (ROM)
Group F: Arsenal (ENG), Marseille (FRA), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Napoli (ITA)
Group G: Porto (POR), Atletico Madrid (SPA), Zenit (RUS), Austria Wien (AUS)
Group H: Barcelona (SPA), AC Milan (ITA), Ajax (HOL), Celtic (SCO)