Man City face Real Madrid in Champions League
Man City face Real Madrid in Champions League avatar

English Premier League Champions Manchester City have been drawn into the group of death in the European Champions League. They face nine-time winners Real Madrid, Dutch powerhouse Ajax and Borussia Dortmund from Germany.

Robert Mancini will be hoping his Manchester City team will fate better in the Champions League this season (Getty Images)

All four teams won their respective premier leagues.

Last season Manchester City were unable to make it out of their bracket, falling in their last game to Napoli. Manager Robert Mancini believes his team of expensive stars are now better prepared for European competition.

Champions League holders Chelsea also have a tough task. The London team begin their defence against Italy’s Serie A champions Juventus.   Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk and Denmark’s FC Nordsjaelland round out the group. Chelsea last season with aging stars were unlikely winners, playing a defensive game to surprise favorites Barcelona in the semi-finals and German’s Bayern Munich in the finals.  Russian owner Roman Abramovich opened the purse strings this summer, buying Belgian Eden Hazard for $48 million, young Brazilian super-star Oscar and Victor Moses from Wigan so expect to see a more powerful team this season.

Manchester United, runners-up to their Manchester neighbor in the Premier League last season face Turkish champs Galatasaray, SC Braga from Portugal and Romania’s FC Cluj. On  paper it should be an easy task for the Red Devils to advance, but Sir Alec Ferguson will be wary after his team seriously underperformed last season, failing to get out of what was probably the weakest group,

Arsenal, who qualified in third place in the Premier League have Schalke, the third-placed Bundesliga team, Greek champ Olympiakos and Montpellier, who took league honors in France. The North London team is heavily favored to make the play-off round, probably along with Schalke.

Scottish champions have a tough task ahead of them. They meet Barcelona and then travel to Portugal to play Benfica. Russia’s  Spartak Moscow rounds out the group.

What Manchester City players said on Twitter

“Looks like we’re not going to get any easy games again this year but it is certainly a good group for the fans. I’m looking forward already!”  – Captain Vincent Kompany

“Group D highlights the fact why it’s called Champions league. #TitleWinnersOnly” – Defender Joleon Lescott

“What a group Real Madrid, Ajax and Dortmund so excited to play those big games.” – Midfielder Samir Nasri

“Very motivated to play the Champions. And even more in @MCFC’s group. Big rivals for a great competition.” –Striker Sergio Augero

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said the draw with Barcelona would be a test for his team, but would add a touch of “real glamour” to their European campaign.

“We are familiar with the three teams, and have recent history with all three under [former manager] Gordon Strachan,” Lennon said. “It’s a tough, tough group but all the teams play good football, so they will be attractive games to watch.”

The group stages run from 18 and 19 September through to 4 and 5 December.

Champions League groups:

Group A: Porto, Dynamo Kiev, Paris St Germain, Dinamo Zagreb

Group B: Arsenal, Schalke, Olympiakos, Montpellier

Group C: AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga

Group D: Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund

Group E: Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, FC Nordsjaelland

Group F: Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, BATE Borisov

Group G: Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic

Group H: Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj

About Gavin Owen-Thomas

Gavin's a former journalist who worked in both newspapers and television media while also coaching at both youth and professional level. Born in Namibia, he grew up in South Africa before moving to England and then on to the United States, arriving in 1978. Gavin started playing as soon as he was old enough to kick a ball, and like every youngster he dreamed of playing, fame and glory. Oh, well.... But he does have a USSF A Coaching license, and took his UEFA A License in Wales. GotSoccer is a play on his initials. He launched the website in 1996, and for the first few years it was well-known for its soccer forum. In 2003 Gavin commissioned programmer Aaron Wilmoth to build a scheduling program based on a design he drew on the back of a restaurant napkin, and GotSoccer as we know it today was born.
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