Football

Barca draw 'not a nightmare' for City

City's director of football Begiristain says it's not all gloom after Guardiola handed reunion with Barca

Pep Guardiola will return to the Nou Camp, after Manchester City were paired with his old club Barcelona in an intriguing Champions League draw in Monaco yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Guardiola, a European Cup winner with Barca as a player in 1992 before twice guiding the Catalan giants to the Champions League title in 2009 and 2011, will also face Borussia Moenchengladbach for a second successive season and Scottish champions Celtic after qualifying for the group stage for a sixth straight year.

City lost to Barcelona in the last 16 of the competition in 2013-14 and 2014-15, while the English Premier League side defeated Gladbach twice in last year's group stage.

Guardiola will face his former team when City travel to the Nou Camp for their third Group C match on Oct 19, with the Spanish champions playing at the Etihad Stadium on Nov 1.

Guardiola-fuelled hype aside, it is yet another difficult draw for City, who have often found the group stage difficult to navigate.

But director of football Txiki Begiristain, also a former Barca executive, told BT Sport: "It is not a nightmare because we are in a wonderful competition. We are really happy, but it will be very tough.

"We reached the semi-finals last season and we want to go far in the Champions League again.

"It is a very difficult competition to win - for everybody - and you need luck along the way, but we are ready and always trying to improve."

Captain Vincent Kompany tweeted: "Usual type of draw for us. Better like this. Bring it on."

Elsewhere in the draw, EPL champions Leicester were drawn in a relatively straightforward Group G along with Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen for their maiden Champions League campaign.

The seeding system meant the Foxes avoided many of the bigger sides and they may harbour realistic hopes of reaching the knock-out rounds.

Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri will tell his players they will realise their dreams once they hear the Champions League music.

The music played before every Champions League game was written by British composer Tony Britten in 1992 and Ranieri knows the Foxes would have made it once they line up against Club Brugge in Belgium next month.

MUSIC TO HIS EARS

He said: "Yes, of course I have missed the Champions League. I love the song of the Champions League. It's amazing. All their lives they have been watching on TV, now they will play and it's a little different.

"I have good experience in the Champions League and I can give my knowledge to them. It's important they play how they are used to playing, with freedom and fight.

"Football in the Champions League is different, you have to think a little more. There are so many champions, they keep possession of the ball very well, but we will try to do our best with our spirit. It's not possible to change."

Arsenal will face Paris Saint-Germain, Basel and Bulgarian side Ludogorets in Group A, while their north London rivals Tottenham were pitted against CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco in Group E.

The Gunners, playing in the competition for a 19th consecutive season, were satisfied with their draw.

Club secretary David Miles said: "We have good Champions League pedigree but, of course, recently we have met with Barcelona and Bayern Munich and unfortunately failed at that hurdle.

"It was nice to avoid those teams, in particular, and, on reflection, we are reasonably pleased with that draw."

Spurs, returning to the Champions League for the first time since the 2010-11 season, may also be confident of making progress. They played Monaco in the Europa League last year and won 4-1 at White Hart Lane.

With the club staging their games at Wembley, while White Hart Lane's capacity is reduced due to the building of their new home, Mauricio Pochettino is ready for his first taste of the competition as a boss.

"We are very excited because it will be my first opportunity to play Champions League football as a manager, this will be exciting for me and for the players too," he said.

"For a lot of players it is their first time playing in the Champions League. To play at Wembley is another exciting possibility. To play in front of 90,000 people will be a great moment for us, a great moment for Tottenham and our supporters too."

Holders Real Madrid were drawn with Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw, while last year's beaten finalists Atletico Madrid were grouped with Bayern Munich, PSV Eindhoven and Rostov. - Wire Services.


GROUP A:

  • Paris Saint-Germain (France)
  • Arsenal (England)
  • Basel (Switzerland)
  • Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)

GROUP B:

  • Benfica (Portugal)
  • Napoli (Italy)
  • Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
  • Besiktas (Turkey)

GROUP C:

  • Barcelona (Spain)
  • Manchester City (England)
  • Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
  • Celtic (Scotland)

GROUP D:

  • Bayern Munich (Germany)
  • Atletico Madrid (Spain)
  • PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
  • Rostov (Russia)

GROUP E:

  • CSKA Moscow (Russia)
  • Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
  • Tottenham Hotspur (England)
  • AS Monaco (France)

GROUP F:

  • Real Madrid (Spain)
  • Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
  • Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
  • Legia Warsaw (Poland)

GROUP G:

  • Leicester City (England)
  • Porto (Portugal)
  • Club Brugge (Belgium)
  • FC Copenhagen (Denmark)

GROUP H:

  • Juventus (Italy)
  • Sevilla (Spain)
  • Lyon (France)
  • Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)
  • First round of group-stage matches will be played on Sept 13-14.
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