Champions League: Favourable groups for United and Liverpool
Meanwhile, Chelsea, Spurs and Celtic weren't so lucky
Eric Bailly of Manchester United celebrates scoring his side’s first goal against Swansea in the Premier League. Photo: Athena Pictures/Getty Images
Manchester United will fancy their chances of advancing beyond the group stages on their return to the Champions League after a favourable draw in Monaco.
Jose Mourinho’s side were placed in Group A and managed to avoid the big guns in the top pot, matching up alongside Benfica, Basel and CSKA Moscow in the group stages which begin on September 12th and 13th.
Also making a return to the competition are Liverpool after seeing off Hoffenheim in the playoff’s on Wednesday. Jurgen Klopp’s side will take on Sevilla in a rematch of the 2016 Europa League final – a clash in which they were beaten by the Spanish side.
Like United they will also face a trip to Russia – to take on Spartake Moscow – with Slovenian side Maribor rounding off Group E.
In Group C, Chelsea will face Atletico Madrid in a draw which brings Diego Costa’s ongoing exile into renewed focus.
Costa joined Chelsea from Atletico in July 2014 and has been an unauthorised absentee from London this summer as he agitates for a move back to his former club. The situation is complicated by a transfer embargo which prevents Atletico from registering new players until January.
Roma and Qarabag, the first Azerbaijan side to reach the group stages, are also in Group C.
Tottenham, runners-up behind their London rivals in May, face the unenviable task of facing holders Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in Group H, as well as Cyprus’ APOEL.
Scottish champions Celtic, play-off winners over Kazakhstan’s Astana, are also in a challenging group, against Bayern Munich, Paris St Germain and Anderlecht in Group B.
Chelsea are the most recent champions from Britain after lifting the trophy in 2012.
The final takes place at the NSK Olimpiyskyi in Kiev on May 26th, 2018.
Real Madrid won Europe’s elite club competition in Cardiff in June, becoming the first team in the Champions League era to win back-to-back titles.
Their draw with Tottenham reunites Gareth Bale with his former club.
It is only the second season that five clubs from one nation were in the group stage, after Spain had five representatives in 2015-16.
Just two groups featured non-British teams.
Juventus, runners-up in Cardiff in June, face Barcelona, Olympiacos and Sporting Lisbon in Group D.
Group G features Monaco, Porto, Besiktas and RB Leipzig.
Champions League draw in full
Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, Basel, CSKA Moscow
Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Anderlecht, Celtic
Group C: Chelsea, Atlético Madrid, Roma, Qarabag
Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting
Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, Maribor
Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord
Group G: Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, Leipzig
Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, Apoel