Champions League: Real Madrid's 3-peat bid starts with tough draw

Two-time defending champion Real Madrid landed in a strong Champions League group with Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, and APOEL in the 32-team draw on Thursday.

Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo finished second to Dortmund in last season’s groups before lifting a third European title in four seasons.

Tottenham, which should face its former star Gareth Bale with Madrid, was arguably the unluckiest of the record five English sides.

Manchester United and Liverpool received favourable draws in the groups which begin play on Sept. 12. The top two in each of the eight groups advance to the knockout rounds.

United returns after a one-year absence to play top-seeded Benfica — which it beat at Wembley to win the first of its three European titles in 1968 — Basel, and CSKA Moscow.

Liverpool lands favourable draw

Liverpool landed with the weakest top-seeded team, Russian champion Spartak Moscow, plus Sevilla, and Maribor. Liverpool lost the 2016 Europa League final to Sevilla.

Barcelona, which was in the second-seeded pot, landed with Juventus — a rematch of the 2015 final won 3-1 by the Spanish giant — Olympiakos and Sporting Lisbon.

Neymar’s bid to win a first European title for Paris Saint-Germain will open in a group with five-time winner Bayern Munich plus Anderlecht and Celtic. Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti, a three-time Champions League winner as a coach, formerly led PSG.

Chelsea, the last English team to win in 2012, was grouped with Atletico Madrid, Roma, and Azerbaijani newcomer Qarabag.

The other newcomer, Leipzig, is in a balanced group with top-seeded Monaco, Porto, and Besiktas.

Shakhtar Donetsk heads another strong group with Manchester City, Napoli, and Feyenoord. Shakhtar continues to play home games away from Donetsk which is at the centre of conflict between Ukraine government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium will host the final on May 26 and could be an option to host Shakhtar group games.

Full draw:

  • Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, Basel, CSKA Moscow
  • Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Anderlecht, Celtic
  • Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, Qarabag.
  • Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting Lisbon
  • Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, Maribor.
  • Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord.
  • Group G: Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, Leipzig.
  • Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, APOEL.

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CBC | Soccer News