Barça will face AC Milan, AFC Ajax and Celtic in this season’s group stage of the Champions League. This evening’s draw in Monaco, with Luis F*go pulling out the all-important group balls with his money-grabbing fingers, saw Barça placed in Group H which on paper looks very attractive and relatively comfortable. Barça have been fortunate to avoid possible opponents such as Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund or Manchester City but all three of Barça’s opponents are previous winners of Europe’s top prize.
Barça have of course played Milan in the last two Champions League seasons. In 2011/12 the teams met in the group stage with a 2-2 draw at Camp Nou and a 2-3 victory for Barça in Milan and then again in the quarter-finals with Barça winning 3-1 on aggregate. Last season the teams met again in the last 16 and Milan gave Barça a shock with a 2-0 win in the first game at the San Siro though Barça put in the performance of the season to win 4-0 in the return.
Celtic have given Barça problems on a few occasions in recent years. Last season the teams met in the group stage with Barça again struggling against the Scots. At Camp Nou Jordi Alba needed to score an injury time goal to give Barça a 2-1 victory and in Glasgow Celtic achieved a surprise 2-1 win.
The clash with Ajax will be interesting due to the club’s similar football philosophy and it will also have the attraction of seeing Bojan Krkic up against his old teammates again.
The full draw is as follows:
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad.
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Copenhagen.
Group C: Benfica, Paris Saint Germain, Olympiakos, Anderlecht.
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plsen.
Group E: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest.
Group F: Arsenal, Olympique de Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli.
Group G: Porto, Atlético Madrid, FC Zenit, Austria Vienna.
Group H: FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax, Celtic.
The first games will be played on September 17/18 and the final round of group games will be on December 10/11. This season’s final will be played in Lisbon on Saturday 24 May 2014.