Barcelona up against Milan

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Barcelona up against Milan

Titleholders Barcelona were pitted against seven-time winners AC Milan in the draw for the 2011/2012 Champions League group stages held here on Thursday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 26 Aug 2011, 12:35 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:06 AM

Aside from Milan, knocked out in the last 16 last term, Pep Guardiola’s Spanish giants will also face FC Bate Borisov of Belarus and Viktoria Plzen in Group H.

Manchester United, making a record 17th appearance in the world’s top club competition, were the first of the 32 teams to be drawn out of UEFA’s ‘hat’ by Portuguese legend Luis Figo.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s three-time winners face Benfica, the Portuguese double winners from the early 1960s, FC Basel and Romanian outfit FC Otelul Galati in Group C.

Figo’s former club, nine-time kings of Europe Real Madrid, come up against old foes Lyon of France, Dutch heavyweights Ajax and Dinamo Zagreb. Friday’s 32-team draw featured 11 previous winners and five newcomers, with among the debutants Ferguson’s ‘noisy neighbours’, Manchester City.

Roberto Mancini’s expensively assembled side were handed a tricky assignment with four-time winners Bayern Munich, who had to come through the play-offs, keeping them company in Group A.

Also on City’s radar are Italian group stage first timers Napoli and Villarreal.

Arsenal’s tricky start to the season with star players Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leaving the Emirates Stadium for pastures new was eased by their defeat of Udinese in the play-offs.

And the Gunners’ reward for securing their 14th Champions League campaign was a match-up against Didier Deschamps’ Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Olympiakos.

Chelsea, the fourth representative from the Premier League and last season’s quarter-finalists, are in Group E with Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Genk.

Last season’s quarter-finalists and three-time champions Inter Milan come up against Russian outfit CSKA Moscow, Lille and Trabzonspor in Group B.

Group G comprises another former winner of the competition in FC Porto, who face Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg and APOEL Nicosia.

The long road to the May 19, 2012 final at Bayern’s Munich stadium starts on September 13 with the opening salvoes of this season’s group stages

The top two placed teams in each group advance to the first knockout round, with the third-placed teams dropping down to the Europa League. —

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