Manchester City’s Champions League curse returned to haunt them after they were drawn with last season’s finalists Juventus and Europa League winners Seville for the group stage of the competition.
City, who have suffered tough draws in the last four seasons of the Champions League, were selected in Group D – with the other team being Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach.
Arsenal also face a tough task in Group F against Bayern Munich, who have eliminated the Gunners from the competition in two out of the last three seasons – but have more straightforward opposition from Greek side Olympiakos – who are in the middle of a match-fixing scandal – and Dinamo Zagreb from Croatia.
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will have a return to a former side Porto, whom he took to Champions League glory in 2004, and his side should have little trouble in Group G with Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Manchester United’s return to the competition after last year’s absence should also not trouble manager Louis van Gaal too much, with the opponents in Group B being PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and German side Wolfsburg.
Manchester City’s head of football administration Brian Marwood admitted the club seemed to experience bad luck in Champions League draws.
He said: “It’s the best 32 clubs in Europe so you have to expect there will be some tough games in there and we do always seem to draw very difficult groups, but it is what it is, we have to deal with it and we’ll hopefully progress.
“I’m sure they are looking at us and seeing the talent we have in our squad, and you’d like to think they are not happy about drawing us.”
Marwood refused to state what the club regarded as a minimum target for manager Manuel Pellegrini however.
He added: “We have our internal targets and they will be kept internal, but of course we are very ambitious; we want to get as close to winning it as we possibly can, of course we do. We’re in it to compete, not just to get through the group stage; it has to be more than that.”
Arsenal’s group has a familiar look to it for the Gunners. As well as the Bayern connection Arsenal and Olympiakos have now been drawn together in the group stage for the fourth time in seven seasons.
David Miles, Arsenal club secretary, admitted to feeling a chill when the Gunners were put into Bayern Munich’s group.
He said: “The draw started ominously when we were picked in Bayern’s group but overall I think we can we relatively pleased with how it turned out.”
Carlo Cudicini, global ambassador for Chelsea, insisted that the Stamford Bridge club did not have an easy draw.
He said: “This not an easy draw at all – I don’t think going to Tel Aviv and Kiev are easy trips. Maccabi are champions of Israel with a manager (Slavisa Jokanovic) who is an ex-Chelsea and knows English football very well.”
Manchester United’s draw will see Memphis Depay return to the club that he starred for last season. The Dutch winger said on Twitter: “Well, well PSV – guess we’ll see each other soon.”
Real Madrid and Paris St Germain will meet in Group A along with Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo. Holders Barcelona will face Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov from Belarus.