Ronaldo faces Old Trafford Return, as Champions League Group Stage Draw is Made
And there it is. After some grown men fiddled with some sets of balls- or how did the Telegraph put it?- we not only know the state of the 32 teams in the UEFA Champions League proper, but also who plays who in the group stage of Ol’Gazprom Cup. Europe’s most prestigious club competition is never not known for its nostalgia and ability to throw up romance, and this year sees the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Old Trafford. Having joined Juventus from Real Madrid this summer, Portugal’s captain will see his new club face his other old side Manchester United, as a pairing in Group H alongside Valencia and Swiss champions BSC Young Boys means the prospect of Ronaldo not celebrating against United when he scores at the Theatre of Dreams is more than plausible. That Group H draw also means Paul Pogba will face his former side in the Bianconeri, having left the Turin club in 2016.
In keeping with returns, Group C sees new Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti face former club Paris St. Germain, although that’s likely to be overshadowed by the fact that Liverpool being in the same group means it’s going to bear the overused ‘Group of Death’ tag. There’s also a return prospect in Group A, as Thomas Lemar will face his old club Monaco with his new side Atletico Madrid, although that’s likely to be overlooked.
Elsewhere, Barcelona and Spurs are paired in Group B, as well as Inter Milan, the three-time champions who haven’t been on this stage since losing to Marseille in 2012. Real Madrid face Roma, as they have done in 2005, 2008, and recently 2016, in Group G; Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk are dejavu’d into last season in Group F, joined by Lyon and debutants Hoffenheim; while Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax and AEK Athens make up Group E.
Group A: Atletico Madrid; Dortmund; Monaco; Club Brugge
Group B: Barcelona; Tottenham; PSV; Inter Milan
Group C: PSG; Napoli; Liverpool; Red Star Belgrade
Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow; Porto; Schalke; Galatasaray
Group E: Bayern Munich; Benfica; Ajax; AEK Athens
Group F: Manchester City; Shakhtar Donetsk; Lyon; Hoffenheim
Group G: Real Madrid; Roma; CSKA Moscow; Viktoria Plzen
Group H: Juventus; Manchester United; Valencia; Young Boys