The draw for the Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League took place in Monaco tonight and has set up some very exciting encounters.
Arsenal were the first team to be drawn from the 32 teams and the 2006 finalists will face last season’s European runners-up Borussia Dortmund, Olympique de Marseille, who won the first ever Champions League trophy, and Napoli, who are managed by former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez, who won the trophy with the Reds in 2005. They are in Group F.
Many have termed both Group F and Group H as the Groups of Death.
Group H features Barcelona, AC Milan, Celtic and Ajax Amsterdam. All four clubs have won the UEFA Champions League trophy in the past.
Last season’s Champions Bayern Munich will take on Premier League side Manchester City, Russian outfit CSKA Moscow and Czech minnows Viktoria Plzen.
While Chelsea, who beat them at the Fussball Arena Munchen in 2012, face trips to Schalke 04, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest from Romania. The side they beat in last season’s Europa League final, Benfica, are in the same group as Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus, nouveau-riche side Paris Saint-Germain and Belgian club Racing Sporting Club Anderlecht.
New Manchester United boss David Moyes will face his first test in the Champions League in the form of Shakhtar Donetsk, German club Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Spanish side Real Sociedad, who finished fourth in Spain’s Primera Liga last season.
Atletico Madrid, who finished third in Spain last season, will entertain Russian outfit Zenit St. Petersburg, Portuguese giants FC Porto and Austrian side Wien.
Real Madrid, the competition’s most successful team, will face Juventus in what is certain to be a mouth-watering clash. The group also features Turkish giants Galatasaray and Denmark’s FC Copenhagen.
Here are the groups in full:
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
Group B: Real Madrid, Galatasaray, Juventus, FC Copenhagen
Group C: Benfica, Paris Saint-Germain, Olympiakos Piraeus, RSC Anderlecht
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plzen
Group E: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
Group F: Arsenal, Olympique de Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, SSC Napoli
Group G: Porto, Atletico de Madrid, Zenit St. Petersburg, Austria Vienna
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Celtic, Ajax Amsterdam
The evening also saw Franck Ribery crowned Best Player in Europe. He was instrumental for a Bayern side that became the first German team to win a European treble, winning the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League. He was also named the best player in last season’s Bundesliga, beating Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the European prize.