MONACO, Aug 31 (Reuters) – Paris St Germain will kick off their quest for a maiden Champions League trophy in a strong Group F featuring Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan and Newcastle United following the draw on Thursday.
PSG, AC Milan and Dortmund have crossed paths on multiple occasions in Europe’s elite competition, but it is a tough welcome back to the Champions League for Newcastle, who will be playing in the tournament for the first time in 20 years.
“Our group is certainly the most difficult… But we accept it. We are up against three absolute top opponents,” Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told the club’s website.
“To survive in this group, you need exceptional performances, and that’s exactly what we’re hoping for from our team.”
Holders Manchester City will take on RB Leipzig, Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys in Group G.
City captured their first European crown this year and Pep Guardiola’s side should have few problems in making the last 16, having handed Leipzig a 7-0 thrashing in last year’s tournament.
Record 14-times winners Real Madrid will play Serie A champions Napoli, Braga and Union Berlin in Group C.
“It will be difficult. Napoli will be a tough opponent for sure. Braga and Union Berlin will be two very competitive teams,” Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno told Spanish media.
German heavyweights Bayern Munich take on Manchester United, FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray in Group A.
United and Bayern have met 11 times in the Champions League, with perhaps their most memorable clash coming in the 1999 final, when the English side emerged victorious to complete the treble.
The clubs were also involved in the race to sign Harry Kane in this transfer window, with the England striker opting to join the Bundesliga champions.
Last season’s runners-up Inter Milan meet Benfica, RB Salzburg and Real Sociedad in Group D, while Europa League winners Sevilla and Arsenal were drawn together in Group B along with PSV Eindhoven and RC Lens.
LaLiga champions Barcelona were handed a favourable draw, paired with Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp in Group H.
Group E is made up of Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Celtic. Feyenoord and Celtic met in the 1970 final, which the Dutch side won 2-1 after extra time.
The Champions League group stage will begin on Sept. 19 and conclude on Dec. 13. The knockout stages begin in February, with the final taking place at London’s Wembley Stadium in June.
Group stage draw in full
The group stages will run from 19 September to 13 December, with the final at Wembley on 1 June.