The draw for the Group stages of the Champions League 2014-15 has resulted in a number of heavyweight clashes.
Liverpool have been rewarded for their return to European football?s premier tournament with a group that features holders Real Madrid. The Spanish side will be hoping to become the first club in the history of the competition to successfully defend their title. Group B is completed by Basel and shock Belgarian qualifiers Ludogorets.
The tournament minnows beat Romanian champions Steaua Bucharest in the play-off despite having their goalkeeper sent off. Defender Cosmin Moti took over between the posts and saved two spot-kicks and converted a penalty of his own. The Reds will be expected to qualify along with Real as the dust settles on their recent signing of Mario Balotelli.
Premier League champions Manchester City have yet to impress on the European stage and have another difficult group to navigate. They have been drawn against old rivals Bayern Munich for the third time in four years. CSKA Moscow and Roma complete a very competitive looking Group E. Bayern will be looking to banish the painful memories of their semi-final mauling at the hands of Real Madrid last season.
Arsenal scraped through by virtue of a goal from summer signing Alexis Sanchez against Besiktas in midweek. They have been drawn alongside Borussia Dortmund for the second year running. Group D is completed by Galatasaray and Anderlecht.
Chelsea have impressed in their opening couple of Premiership matches and are the bookmakers choice to go furthest in the competition from the English teams. They appear to have a relatively simple task with German side Schalke joined by Sporting Lisbon and Celtic?s conquerors, Maribor. The Blues are monitoring £32million striker Diego Costa after he suffered a knock in training ahead of their weekend visit to Everton.
Barcelona and Paris St Germain spearhead Group F in which Ajax and Apoel of Cyprus appear to have an enormous task. Last season?s finalists Atletico Madrid will also fancy their chances of progressing from Group A having been drawn with Juventus, Olympiacos and Malmo.
Group A: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiacos, Malmo
Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets
Group C: Benfica, Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco
Group D: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht
Group E: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, Roma
Group F: Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, Apoel Nicosia
Group G: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Sporting, Maribor
Group H: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE