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Champions League draw in full: Spurs get a shocker

August 24, 2017 5:06 PM
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Champions League draw in full: Spurs get a shocker

The draw has been made for the group stage of the 2017/18 Champions League.

Five English clubs were in the pots for the first time ever, with Manchester United having won last season's Europa League and Liverpool making it through their qualifier against Bundesliga side Hoffenheim with an emphatic 6-3 aggregate win.

Manchester United fans will be pleased in getting Benfica as top seeds, both as the Old Trafford side avoided the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich from Pot One – and as a positive omen. Back when this competition was the European Cup, 50 years ago, Benfica were the team Manchester United bested 4-1 in the 1968 final to become the first English side crowned as the continent’s champions.

A less positive omen is that two of the group's three sides - Primeira Liga champions Benfica and Swiss side Basel - were in United’s group in 2011/12. It was a European campaign to forget: the Reds couldn’t beat either side, home or away, as they stumbled to third in the group. A rare failure to qualify during Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure.

CSKA Moscow were a team Manchester United have happier recent memories against, however, having beaten and drawn with them in this competition in 2015/16. It's a long trek to Moscow, but overall Jose Mourinho would have bitten your hand off if you'd offered him this group before the start of the draw.

If Celtic and Brendan Rodgers crave European heavyweight action, they certainly got it. Bayern Munich and PSG are the two standout favourites from Group B and Neymar has previous against Celtic, having netted a hat-trick in a 6-1 win for Barcelona in 2013/14. However, Celtic have upset the very best at Parkhead before - so more of the same isn't out of the question.

While PSG have invested in Neymar to bring them Champions League glory, Bayern Munich did the same with their coach - hiring Carlo Ancelotti in 2016 partly because of his excellent record in winning this competition three times as a coach. All of Europe will have eyes on the tie between heavy favourites for the French and German super-powers.

Realistically, it may be that Anderlecht - who edged out Rostov 4-2 to qualify for the group stage - and Celtic are locked in a battle for third spot and Europa League qualification.

Chelsea! Atletico Madrid! Diego Costa! The Blues (Pot One thanks to their Premier League victory) return to the Champions League with a tasty-looking tussle against Diego Simeone's Atleti. It's unclear who Costa will be playing for by then – probably nobody in truth, since he wouldn't actually be able to play for the embargo-plagued Atletico even if they did snare him before then.

Antonio Conte will also come up against former Serie A foes Roma, plus Qarabag – the first Azerbaijani side ever to make the group stage.

An early meeting for the Champions League finalists of 2015, and last season's semi-finalists. Juve came up trumps with a blistering final-four first leg last season, storming to a 3-0 victory and grinding out a goalless second leg.

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Ernesto Valverde comes up against former club Olympiakos, meanwhile – for the two clubs' first ever meeting no less. The Greek side nabbed a 1-0 home win over Juve in the 2014/15 group stage, before narrowly losing 3-2 in Turin. Sporting have a daunting task out of Pot Four.

Liverpool have been handed a favourable Group E after conquering Hoffenheim – opposing the Reds are Russian champions Spartak, Slovenians Maribor and their 2016 Europa League Final conquerers Sevilla. This is pretty much as good as it could have got for the Reds – so Jurgen Klopp will be one happy chap this evening.

Shakhtar Donetsk as top seeds will have been a relatively welcome sight for Manchester City as they avoided Europe’s big guns, but Pot Three brought a twist in the tail. Napoli bucked the trend of Italian sides struggling in the Champions League play-offs by beating Nice 4-0 on aggregate.

They're expected to be one of the main challengers to Juventus in Serie A, and beat City in this competition way back in 2011/12. While City and Napoli will be favourites to qualify, Pot Four side Feyenoord are reigning Eredivisie champions and have an astute manager in Giovanni van Bronckhorst. This may not be the most glamorous of groups, but it looks an evenly balanced one where all four teams will fancy their chances.

A re-match of the 2004 Champions League Final here, won 3-0 by Jose Mourinho's Porto (of course). Ligue 1 champions Monaco blitzed their way to the semi-finals last season after seeing off Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund en route, and look to have a favourable draw here. Besiktas and newcomers RB Leipzig make up a very open-looking group.

Ouch, Tottenham... ouch. But isn't the Bernabeu, Signal Iduna Park and Wembley a fun set of group stage stadia? Real Madrid and Dortmund will meet for the fourth season in six after being drawn together. The two sides faced off four times in the 2012/13 campaign when BVB reached the final; last season they produced a pair of 2-2 draws, after claiming home-wins-to-nil apiece in 2013/14.

APOEL were the final team to be drawn. Spurs have paid a heavy price for being in Pot Three here – but this is hardly going to help their prospects going forward.

UEFA Women’s Player of the Year: Lieke Martens (Rosengard, now Barcelona)

Goalkeeper of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League: Gigi Buffon (Juventus)

Defender of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Midfielder of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)

Forward of the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)

Also read: Klopp sick of Liverpool's defensive slips after League Cup loss

Source: fourfourtwo.com

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