Guardiola returning to Barca in Champions League

MONACO (Reuters) – Pep Guardiola will return to the Nou Camp in the Champions League group stage after his new club Manchester City were drawn against his former Barcelona team on Thursday in one of the toughest of the eight groups.

Bayern Munich were given a quick chance to avenge last season’s semi-final defeat by Atletico Madrid after they were drawn together while English Premier League winners Leicester City will face Porto, Club Bruges and Copenhagen on their debut.

Elsewhere, holders and 11-times champions Real Madrid renew their recent rivalry with Borussia Dortmund.

Barca and City were drawn in Group C alongside Borussia Moenchengladbach and former European champions Celtic, with recent history clearly favouring the Catalans.

Spanish coach Guardiola, who won the Champions League twice with Barca, suffered a 5-3 aggregate defeat when he faced his old team with Bayern in the semi-finals two seasons ago.

City, who visit the Nou Camp on Oct. 19, met Barca in the round of 16 in 2013-14 and 2014-15 and lost both legs on each occasion.

Bayern, now under triple Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti, and Atletico are clear favourites to progress from Group D which also features PSV Eindhoven and Russian league runners-up Rostov who are also group-stage debutants.

Ancelotti was cautious, however, pointing out that Atletico needed a penalty shootout to beat PSV last season and that Rostov eliminated Ajax Amsterdam in the playoffs this week.

“It’s a difficult draw and we have to be careful,” he said.

Real and Dortmund should go through from Group F at the expense of Sporting and Legia Warsaw, who are back in the group stage after a 20-year absence.

CLASSIC MATCHES

Dortmund knocked out Real in the semi-finals in 2013 but the Spanish giants came out on top the following season in the last eight.

“It’s difficult but attractive. Matches against Real are becoming classics for Dortmund. We are looking forward to meeting the holders,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

Apart from the odd heavyweight clash, many of the groups look predictable, a criticism that has increasingly been levelled at the competition in recent years.

Leicester, the other newcomers among the 32 teams, and Porto will start as favourites in Group G even though the English side are taking part for the first time.

Porto are in the group stage for the 21st time, a record they share with Real and Barca, but the double champions from Portugal have won only three of their last 16 ties against English teams in the competition.

Paris St Germain and Arsenal, who are attempting to reach the round of 16 for the 17th time in a row, are the favourites in Group A against Basel and rank Bulgarian outsiders Ludogorets although the Swiss have caused upsets in the past.

Juventus, Serie A winners for the last five seasons, face Sevilla, Olympique Lyonnais and Dinamo Zagreb in Group H with the first three likely to battle for the top two places.

For the third season running Serie A has only two teams in the group stage. The other side, Napoli, will meet Benfica, Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev in Group B.

Group E is arguably the most evenly-balanced with CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco.

It has been widely reported in the media that organisers UEFA, under pressure from the big clubs to reform the competition, will change the format from 2018-19 to allow four guaranteed places for England, Spain, Italy and Germany.

UEFA, which has faced talk of a breakaway Super League, has said only that it is studying possible changes for the 2018-21 cycle.

 

Related Posts
Caps fans welcome new coach
HARARE - Caps United supporters have hailed the appointment of Mark Harrison as the new Green Machine gaffer. Harrison who was on Wednesday unveiled as the Green Machine’s new coach on ...
READ MORE
Hamilton wins Monaco showcase
MONACO (Reuters) - Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton celebrated his first win of the Formula One season in a crash-filled Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday. While fortune finally favoured the Mercedes ...
READ MORE
FIFA President Sepp Blatter pauses during a news conference at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, June 2, 2015.   REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
ZURICH (Reuters) - Suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose world soccer federation is mired in a corruption crisis, has been discharged from hospital, his confidant and former publicist Klaus Stoehlker ...
READ MORE
Serena trumps sister to keep calendar slam on track
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Serena Williams kept her bid for a calendar-year grand slam on track, powering past older sister Venus 6-2 1-6 6-3 on a steamy star-studded night at ...
READ MORE
Usain Bolt – the man who saved a sport
For a couple of seconds on 15 August, I feared for the future of athletics. Convicted dope cheat Justin Gatlin, having started better than Usain Bolt in the 100 metres ...
READ MORE
Caps owe players $40k
HARARE - Players have taken Caps United to court over unpaid signing on fees, bonuses and allowances, which went for arbitration on Tuesday, will only be concluded on Friday after ...
READ MORE
10 out of 10 for Pep but the perfectionist demands more
MANCHESTER (Reuters) - The perfectionist in Pep Guardiola forbids him to get remotely carried away by Manchester City's 100 percent record this season even though they made it 10 wins ...
READ MORE
Jadhav’s maiden ODI ton eases India to victory
HARARE, July 14 (Reuters) – A maiden century from Kedar Jadhav helped India complete a clean-sweep of the three-match one-day International series in Zimbabwe with an 83-run victory at Harare ...
READ MORE
CAPS United tottering on the brink of collapse
CAPS United, weighed down by serious financial problems, are now tottering on the brink of collapse, with the club’s leadership telling those who are unhappy with working under the tough ...
READ MORE
French racism cost me Euro 2016 spot, says Benzema
PARIS (Reuters) - Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema said he was denied the chance to play for France in the Euro 2016 this month because of his Algerian origins. Benzema's comments, ...
READ MORE
Caps fans welcome new coach
Hamilton wins Monaco showcase
Blatter out of hospital, says confidant
Serena trumps sister to keep calendar slam on
Usain Bolt – the man who saved a
Caps owe players $40k
10 out of 10 for Pep but the
Jadhav’s maiden ODI ton eases India to victory
CAPS United tottering on the brink of collapse
French racism cost me Euro 2016 spot, says

Arts & Entertainment