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Pep Guardiola will be going back to his old stomping grounds as Manchester City were drawn into a group with Barcelona in the Champions League group stage on Thursday. Guardiola spent most of his playing career at Camp Nou before managing Barcelona from 2008-12, where he won the Champions League in 2009 and 2011.
This will be the third time in the last four competition that the two sides have met, with Barcelona knocking out Manchester City in the round of 16 in both 2014 and 2015.
Joining Barcelona and Manchester City in Group C are USMNT member Fabian Johnson’s German side Borussia Monchengladbach and Scottish side Celtic, who defeated Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the playoff round to qualify for the Group Stage.
The Group stage will also feature a rematch of last season’s semifinal as Atletico Madrid were drawn into Group D with Bayern Munich. Elsewhere Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will square off in a Group F showdown.
The remaining three Premier League clubs in the competition have to be happy with their draws. Champions Leicester City were drawn into Group G with Porto (Portugal), Club Brugge (Belgium), and FC Copenhagen (Denmark). As Leicester were Premier League champions, they were placed in Pot 1 along with the holders Real Madrid and the champions of the top-seven European leagues. By being in Pot 1 they were automatically able to avoid giants like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, and Juventus, but they have to be thrilled that they avoided potential Pot 2 juggernauts like Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid as well.
Arsenal fans have to be thanking the heavens for their draw this year. After getting rough draws with German sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in each of the last three years the team was given a pretty straightforward draw this year. The Gunners will play in Group A along with PSG (France), FC Basel (Switzerland), and Ludogorets (Bulgaria).
With Arsenal having been drawn into Group A, Spurs fans were able to rejoice as thanks to UEFA’s complicated rules involving certain teams that need to be separated for television and political reasons, the only group Tottenham was able to be drawn into was Group E, allowing them to avoid harsh groups like Groups F or D.
Instead, the Spurs will take on CSKA Moscow (Russia), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany), and Monaco (France). With the exception of the trip to Moscow it will be a relatively easy travel schedule for a fan base that loves to complain about European travel.
The English clubs will have to fancy their chances to get through the group stage this season. Over the past few years England has struggled to get all four clubs through to the knockout rounds, causing their UEFA co-efficient to go down, putting their four places in the competition in jeopardy.
Here is the complete draw.
Group A: PSG, Arsenal, FC Basel, Ludogorets
Group B: Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas
Group C: Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, Celtic
Group D: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, PSV Eindhoven, Rostov
Group E: CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, Monaco
Group F: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon, Legia Warsaw
Group G: Leicester City, Porto, Club Brugge, FC Copenhagen
Group H: Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon, Dynamo Zagreb