Premier League champions Manchester City have been drawn to face Paris St-Germain, RB Leipzig and Club Bruges in the Champions League group stage. Current holders Chelsea come up against Serie A giants Juventus, Russian club Zenit St Petersburg and Swedish side Malmo.
Manchester United face Villarreal, who beat them in last season’s Europa League final, as well as Italian club Atalanta and Swiss side Young Boys while Liverpool are in a tough group with Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan.
This is the Group stage draw in full:
Group A: Manchester City, Paris St-Germain, RB Leipzig, Club Bruges
Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Porto, AC Milan
Group C: Sporting Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, Besiktas
Group D: Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Sheriff Tiraspol
Group E: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv
Group F: Villarreal, Manchester United, Atalanta, Young Boys
Group G: Lille, Sevilla, FC Salzburg, Wolfsburg
Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Malmo
This year’s Champions League final takes place at the St Petersburg Stadium in Russia on Saturday, 28 May. Pep Guardiola’s City side, who were beaten by Chelsea last season in their maiden final in the competition, face a brace of tantalising Group A meetings with Lionel Messi’s new club PSG.
Those matches could see a reunion for Messi with old foe Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been heavily linked with a move to City from Juventus before transfer deadline day. The two sides meet in the competition for the second consecutive season after last season’s semi-final showdown, which City won 4-1 on aggregate.
Bundesliga side RB Leipzig will also be a difficult proposition, having knocked out Manchester United in the group stage last season. Jurgen Klopp’s six-time winners Liverpool are arguably in this season’s hardest group, along with La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, Portuguese club Porto – winners in 1987 and 2004 – and seven-time European champions AC Milan.
Liverpool beat Milan in the famous 2005 final in Istanbul, but the Italians gained revenge in Athens two years later. The toughest task for Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea side will be negotiating home and away meetings with Juventus, while the defending champions should have few problems against Zenit and Malmo.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be much happier with Manchester United’s chances of progression from Group F, having been knocked out in the group stage last season. The Red Devils will be aiming to take revenge on Unai Emery’s Villarreal, who beat them on penalties in the Europa League final last season.