Geneva (AP) – The next opponents in the mission to defend the title did not scare Robert Lewandowski and Co., defending champions FC Bayern Munich do not expect any major hurdles in the group stage of the Champions League.
In contrast, for Borussia Mönchengladbach, returning to the premier class after four years is a journey into the glorious past. Record winners Real Madrid and Inter Milan bring back memories of the big European Cup nights for the foal team.
RB Leipzig also caught a difficult group. The team of coach Julian Nagelsmann gets it like in the semi-final knockout. to do with Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Tuchel in August, plus England’s record champions Manchester United and Istanbul Basaksehir.
“This is a demanding group. We know Paris from the semi-finals, with them we still have a bill,” said RB sports director Markus Krösche. “Our goal is still the round of 16. We showed what we are capable of last season.”
On the other hand, Bayern had more of a lucky draw 39 days after their triumph against PSG. The greatest challenge for Hansi Flick’s team is likely to be Atlético. The Spaniards, who have strengthened themselves with star striker Luis Suarez, eliminated the German record champions in 2016 in the semi-finals. The last time the two clubs met in the 2016/17 season. Even then, the Spaniards were able to defeat the Bundesliga club. RB Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow are clearly outsiders in Group A. “A very interesting group,” is how Thomas Müller called the constellation. “As the current Champions League winner, you are already under pressure in the group stage.”
Runner-up Borussia Dortmund, who failed last season in the round of 16 against later finalists PSG, also found a feasible group. The Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg, Lazio Rome and FC Brugge are the opponents of Westphalia. In the duel with Lazio as arguably the toughest opponent, there will be a reunion with ex-BVB striker Ciro Immobile, who was the Italian top scorer before Cristiano Ronaldo last season.
The Gladbach opponents are far more well-known. “This is an awesome lot. We got the Creme de la Creme of Europe. We are looking forward to it. That is a lot of history that meets us,” said Gladbach’s sports director Max Eberl on TV channel Sky and recalled the legendary 7 : 1 against Inter in 1971 with the rifle throwing from Bökelberg and the lavish football festival against Real at 5: 1 in 1985. Borussia has to deal with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Meanwhile, coach Jürgen Klopp is playing with Liverpool FC in the group stage against Ajax Amsterdam, Atalanta Bergamo and FC Midtjylland from Denmark. There is a classic in Group G with Juventus Turin and FC Barcelona when the superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi meet.
The goal of all clubs is Istanbul, where the final is to take place on May 29, 2021. In the group phase there is a real hunt for appointments until Christmas. The game will be played on 20./21. and 27./28. October, 3rd / 4th and 24./25. November and 1st / 2nd and 8./9. December. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there could be more game cancellations – then somehow a new alternative date has to be found. UEFA reserves the right to extend the group stage until January 28th.
In Germany it still seems unclear how to proceed with possible quarantine regulations. “If we compete in the Champions League in a risk area on Wednesday (…), then the basis should be in place so that we can play in the Bundesliga again on Saturday,” said BVB sports director Michael Zorc in the “FAZ “said. The local authorities are responsible, the clubs should try to obtain special permits.
If the group stage cannot be completed for “whatever reasons”, the UEFA Executive Committee will decide on the composition of the knockout round, the umbrella association announced. The same rules apply to the Europa League, whose group stage will be drawn this Friday.
THE DRAW FOR THE GROUP PHASE OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE:
Red Bull Salzburg
FC Zenit St. Petersburg
Club Bruges KV
Paris St. Germain