Gent, winners of the Belgian league last season, are guaranteed new faces among the 32 clubs at the group stage, while Astana can become the first team from Kazakhstan if they overcome the Cypriot side, Apoel, on Wednesday.
Last season’s finalists Juventus were drawn against English Premier League champions Manchester City, Europa League titleholders Sevilla, and Borussia Moenchengladbach in Group D, quickly labelled the “group of death” by commentators.
Group B: PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, VFL Wolfsburg.
It is the best club competition in the world but once again the English teams will flatter to deceive in this season’s Champions League.
Group C: Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Galatasaray, Astana.
True to form, Arsenal get their usual clash with German juggernauts Bayern Munich, along with Greek giants Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb.
The process ensures that Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal could be paired with a former club in Barcelona or Bayern Munich, but the Dutch coach has no plan to follow the draw.
The first match of the group stage will be either September 15 or 16.
United will face one team apiece from Pots 1, 3 and 4, and cannot be drawn against a team from the same country in the group stage so Chelsea are not among the options. “We can qualify from this group”, said Venezuelan Danny, captain of Zenit. Arsenal have meet Olympiakos three times previously and on each occasion, they have lost the away tie, although it has always been the final fixture of the group when they have already qualified.
Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno offered these thoughts on the group. Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel Aviv complete the group.
If Jose Mourinho wins the European Cup with Chelsea, it will be the third time he has won it following his previous successes with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010.
A nightmare Champions League group for Chelsea would consist of Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Monchengladbach.