When each of the eight groups in the UEFA Champions League were announced on August 29, fans of soccer were finally able to see who some of the best clubs in the world would be playing against during the early stages. Following a tremendous 2012-2013 Champions League season that saw Bayern Munich upend German rival Borussia Dortmund for the title, the anticipation level continues to mount with the opening contests in the UEFA league beginning on September 17 and 18.
Interesting groupings place perennial power Real Madrid and Barcelona with some of the other top teams in the game, setting up what should be a strong start to the 32-team season. Madrid headlines Group B which also features talented club Juventus. Four-time champion Barcelona was placed in Group H where they'll clash at some point with seven-time Champions League winner AC Milan. Last season's runner-up Borussia Dortmund landed an extremely difficult position with Napoli, Marseille and Arsenal while Chelsea's draw appears light with clubs Schalke 04, FC Basel and FC Steaua Bucurest not expected to put up strong resistance.
Another interesting storyline to the 2013-2014 UEFA Champions League lies within Group A. Manchester United certainly headlines the group and while Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen are notable clubs, the addition of Real Sociedad means that two former Mexican national teammates will have the opportunity to face one another when Man U and Real meet in the group stage.
Real Sociedad needed a playoff victory over Lyon to advance to the Champions League - the club's first appearance in the 32-team field in a decade - and thanks to a strong performance from Carlos Vela, Real Sociedad will have the opportunity to play one of the most recognizable franchises in all of sports.
Carlos Vela will take on former El Tri teammate Javier Hernandez during upcoming UEFA Champions League season. Credit: Getty
Vela and Man U's Chicharito Hernandez - former teammates on Chepo de la Torre's Mexican national squad - will have the opportunity to face one another on 2 separate occasions this season since both teams are featured in the same group. While Vela is not currently an active member of El Tri he has played alongside Hernandez in the past, setting up a special moment between the players when they eventually meet this season.
Though he certainly remains a fan of his native team, the 24-year-old believes his squad will advance to the World Cup once qualifying concludes but he's not sure if he'll suit up with his friend and Red Devil star Chicharito.
"At the moment I'm not there, I'm another fan and I wish the team the best, I always want my country to succeed and we will be supporting," Vela said to FOX Sports recently regarding his possible return to the club. "I don't have a doubt, I believe Mexico will be at the World Cup, it has very good players."
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez has been a member of the Mexican national team since 2009, registering 35 goals in 53 matches while establishing himself as one of the premier international scorers in the game.
With the opportunity to catch Hernandez battle Vela in the Champions League approaching, these games will truly create some of the top feel-good storylines of the UEFA season.