Bayern Munich have a chance for instant revenge on Atletico Madrid after the two sides were drawn together in group D. Gladbach and Dortmund have tough tasks while Cristiano Ronaldo was named Europe’s best player.
The German champions clashed with the Spanish club in last year’s semifinals when a 2-1 second leg win in Munich wasn’t enough for the 2013 champions to overturn a 1-0 loss in Madrid. Atleti went on to lose to city rivals Real Madrid in the final. Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, who won the European Cup in 1988, and Champions League debutants FC Rostov, from Russia make up the group.
New Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti described his side’s task as “tricky” while defender Mats Hummels said he is looking forward to a new challenge.
“I’m very happy with the group because we’ve got three teams I’ve never played before,” the German international said.
Borussia Dortmund, who finished second behind Bayern in last season’s Bundesliga, will face the reigning champions in group F following the draw in Monaco on Thursday. The fixture is sure to bring back happy memories for BVB fans who will recall Robert Lewandowski’s four goal-salvo against Real in the 2013 semifinal first leg. That feat set up a 4-3 aggregate victory and a final that they eventually lost against Bayern. Dortmund and Real are joined by Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw.
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s dubious reward for their 6-1 win against Young Boys in Wednesday’s play off match is sharing a group with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and the Spaniard’s former club Barcelona. The Foals will also face Scottish champions Celtic in group C.
The fourth German side in the competition, Bayer Leverkusen, have a slightly easier task, at least on paper. They avoided the real continental big boys among the top seeds and drew Spartak Moscow along with Tottenham Hotspur and Monaco. Leverkusen head coach Roger Schmidt sees an opportunity for his side: “It’s a very balanced group. Our goal is to get to the round of 16,” he said.
Elsewhere, shock English champions Leicester landed an open looking group G that also features Porto, Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen. In group A, it’s Paris St Germain, Arsenal, Basel and Ludogrets; Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas make up group B while Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb are the teams in group H.
The first round of fixtures is scheduled for September 13 and the group stage will end on December 7.
Ronaldo picks up another award
Immediately after the draw was completed, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was named as UEFA’s Best Player in Europe for a second time. The 31-year-old, who won Euro 2016 with Portugal in July as well as last season’s Champions League with his club, took the prize ahead of Real teammate Gareth Bale and Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann.
Ronaldo, who scored 51 club goals last season, took the award back off his great rival Lionel Messi, who won last year. The honor is voted for by journalists from UEFA’s 55 member countries.
Lyon forward Ada Hegerberg won the women’s award.