Celtic and City up against it
Soccer:Republic of Ireland and Spartak Moscow winger Aiden McGeady will be heading back to Glasgow to face former club Celtic in the Champions League group stages. The clubs were this afternoon drawn together in Group G alongside Spanish giants Barcelona and Portuguese side Benfica.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon declared himself "delighted" with the draw.
"It is fantastic to be involved with the draw, very exciting and to be in a group with Barcelona - tough but real glamour games for the club - and the other two are huge clubs in their respective countries.
"We have familiar with all three clubs, we have recent history against all three of those teams. I remember under Gordon (Strachan) we played Barcelona and Benfica and we knocked out Moscow in a play-off.
"It's a tough, tough group but all the teams play football so it should be attractive to watch. Let's not get carried away, let's see what fixtures are coming up. We are in it, it is fantastic to be here and we are going to make the most of it and enjoy it."
Manchester City will face Real Madrid for the first time in a competitive match after being drawn against Jose Mourinho’s side in the Champions League group stage.
City have the toughest group of all in Group D with the Spanish champions, Dutch league winners Ajax and German double-winners Borussia Dortmund all dangerous opponents.
Chelsea, the defending European champions, also have an awkward task in Group E along with Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Danish newcomers FC Nordsjaelland.
Manchester United and Arsenal have more straightforward groups. The Gunners are in Group B with Schalke, Olympiacos and Montpellier, while Alex Ferguson’s United will take on Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj in Group H.
Alex Ferguson was conscious after the draw that his side was predicted to make round two last year after being given a favourable draw against Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati. And for that reason, he insists his squad cannot afford any slip-ups this time around.
"We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and we will always remember the 'Welcome to Hell' banners," Ferguson told ManUtd.com. "So it's always a difficult type of match. We have drawn Portuguese clubs a number of times over the past few years - the likes of Benfica, Sporting [Lisbon] and Porto - so we have the experience of playing in Portugal on many occasions.
"Braga are one of the improving teams in that country.
"Obviously, we've never played Cluj before but, after the experience of last year, we don't want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through."
Group A:FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev, PSG, Dinamo Zagreb
Group B:Arsenal, Schalke 04, Olympiacos, Montpellier
Group C:AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga
Group D:Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund
Group E:Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, FC Nordsjaelland
Group F:Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, BATE Borisov
Group G:Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic
Group H:Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj
First match days are 18th & 19th September 2012.