The draw for the 2021/2022 Uefa Champions League group stage is out and has thrown up thrilling fixtures with top Europe’s biggest clubs drawn against each other.
Pep Guardiola will be reunited with Lionel Messi after Manchester City were drawn up against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) in what could be the toughest tie.
Guardiola’s Man City side defeated PSG in the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League on the way to losing the final to Chelsea in Porto.
“It is special, Manchester City are one of the best teams in Europe and have been fighting to win the Champions League for 10 years,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.
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“The challenge is to try to finish first in the group.”
The European giants are joined in Group A by RB Leipzig and Belgian champions Club Brugge.
Champions League holders, Chelsea who beat Manchester City in last season final will play Juventus, as well as Russian champions Zenit and Swedish champions Malmo.
Another fascinating draw is in Group E as Barcelona face difficult hurdle when they play Bayern Munich. For Barcelona, it will be the first meeting with Bayern since they were humbled 8-2 by the German giants in Benfica’s Estadio da Luz in Lisbon in the quarter-finals in 2020.
Bayern and Barcelona have won 11 Champions Leagues between them and Barcelona will be competing in the competition without Messi for the first time in 17 years. Benfica and Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev complete the group. Messi helped Barcelona to lift the Champions League trophy in 2015.
“Barcelona is a different team without Messi, but they still have good players in their ranks. We want to get through the group, ideally as winners,” said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool men have been drawn into a tough Group B, where they will take on Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Porto.
Milan, seven-time Champions League winners are back in the game for the first time since 2013/14 after coming second in Serie A last season.
“I laughed, to be honest, pretty loud because it is a tough group obviously,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com.
Manchester United face a rematch with Villarreal, who beat them on penalties in the final of last season’s Europa League. Also in Group F are Atalanta and Swiss champions Young Boys.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost to Villarreal on penalties in last season’s Europa League final.
Real Madrid – record 13 times Champions League winners will take on Italian champions, Inter Milan, as well as Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff Tiraspol, who are the first Moldovan side to compete in the Champions League.
Erling Haaland’s Borussia Dortmund play fellow former winners Ajax as well as Sporting Lisbon and Besiktas in Group C, while Lille, Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg and Wolfsburg make up Group G.
The Champions League group stage draw took place in Istanbul on Thursday and the group stage begins on September 14 and 15. The final will take place in St Petersburg on May 28.