The highly anticipated draw has been made for this season’s Champions League group stage and the four Bundesliga entrants have learnt their fates. There are some highly intriguing match-ups for this year’s group stage involving Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen. Here’s the low-down on what it means for the Bundesliga’s finest.
Bayern Munich (Group B: Tottenham, Olympiacos, Red Star Belgrade)
Bundesliga champions and five-time winners of the European Cup/ Champions League Bayern Munich have drawn a satisfactory draw with Tottenham, Greek side Olympiacos and 1991 champions Red Star their opponents in Group B.
Last season’s beaten finalists Spurs have met Bayern four times previously with FCB winning two, drawing one and losing one, although their last meeting was over 30 years ago. Olympiacos were Greek runners-up last season, while Red Star have a real history in the competition having won the European Cup back in 1991 with their famous team including Darko Pancev, Robert Prosinecki, and Dejan Savicevic.
Bayern will feel highly confident of progressing through the group as they look to make a real impression on the competition having won the Bundesliga on the last seven occasions.
CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “I think we should be happy with the draw, it is important to start with great motivation and concentration and to treat each team with respect.”
Sporting Director Hasan Salihamidzic: “This is a draw we can live with. Our goal is to reach the round of 16 and win the group as well. However, we are well advised not to underestimate any team.”
Borussia Dortmund (Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague)
It is hard to argue against the fact that Borussia Dortmund have drawn the most difficult group of all the German entrants. Spanish champions Barcelona will be clear group favourites with five European Cup/ Champions League titles as well as twelve other major European honours. They may have just loaned Philippe Coutinho to Bayern, but with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele (and potentially Neymar) in their attacking ranks, BVB will have to be at their best.
Inter, under new coach Antonio Conte, have invested in the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Valentino Lazaro and Diego Godin and will be a real competitor for one of the two qualifying berths.
Sporting Director Michael Zorc: “We’ve been handed the most difficult group. It conjures up memories of the ’90s and the clashes we had with Barcelona and Inter Milan back then. Barcelona are among the favourites for the title in the Champions League every single season.
“Inter Milan have strengthened significantly this summer, including the signings of Romelu Lukaku and possibly also Alexis Sanchez from Manchester United. The group is a challenge for us. We gladly accept it.”
Coach Lucien Favre: “It really is a very difficult group. But more to the point it’s a huge challenge for us. Not much needs to be said about this Barca team with Messi & Co., while Inter want to return to the top in Italy and have invested heavily over the summer. Slavia, meanwhile, reached the Europa League quarter-finals last season before going out to Chelsea.
“We’re thinking positive: on the one hand, it’s nice to play against such teams and they’re not bad travel destinations either; on the other hand, we’ll have to give our best in every match in order to achieve our first objective and get through the group.”
RB Leipzig (Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon)
RB Leipzig go into their second Champions League campaign under new coach Julian Nagelsmann and face a tough, but achievable draw. Russian side Zenit were the side drawn out of the dreaded pot 1, while Benfica and Lyon provide the other opponents in group G.
This group looks extremely open with no clear favourite. The team that hits the ground running and makes the most of its home ties will do well. Leipzig could easily top the group, but could just as easily finish bottom of the pile.
CEO Oliver Mintzlaff: “This is a deceptive lot, because they are big teams from the respective countries. We have a chance to progress in this competition. But every task gets really hard and we have to reach our limit in every game.”
Coach Julian Nagelsmann: “This is a group with really good opponents and great stadiums. We want to progress in the Champions League, but these teams will challenge us and demand everything. I’ve just seen Benfica live, Zenit is Russian champion and Lyon have very, very good players. I experienced that myself last year.”
Bayer Leverkusen (Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow)
Bayer Leverkusen have started the current Bundesliga season in fine form, but they will have to be at their very best to progress to the knock-out stage with two heavyweights in their group. Juventus and Atletico Madrid will be the favourites to move forward, but the Werkself will fancy their chances of at least finishing third in the group as a minimum.
Sporting Director Simon Rolfes: “This is a top group with top teams. We met Atletico in the Champions League season 2016/17 in the second round – which were super games. Juventus with Cristiano Ronaldo is of course fantastic for our fans. And Russian teams are always dangerous, and Lokomotiv Moscow is no exception. But I’m sure that we are also a big challenge for our opponents. Now we want to do everything to make the group stage successful.”
Coach Peter Bosz: “We are very happy about this group, they are very, very strong teams, but that was always going to be the case at the start of the competition. It is a great challenge and now we have to master this task.”
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