Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Villarreal now know their opponents for the 2011-12 Champions League group stages after the draw for the competition’s 32 teams took place in Monaco on Thursday evening.
Defending champions and one of the top seeds Barcelona have been drawn in Group H against seven times competition winners Milan that will be a repeat of the 1994 European Cup final, one that the Italians notably won 4-0 against Johan Cruyff’s side.
The Blaugrana also face Belarusian side BATE Borisov in their second participation in the competition’s group stages and Czech side Viktoria Plzen in only their third ever season in Europe, and first in the Champions League.
Nine times European Cup winners and fellow top seeds Real Madrid face Lyon for the third consecutive season in the competition, Dutch champions Ajax and Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb in Group D.
Meanwhile, Valencia, whose fans expect an improvement on last term’s Last 16 elimination will have to overcome recently-sold hero Juan Mata and his new club Chelsea, Bundesliga runners-up Bayer Leverkusen, and Belgian side Genk, who came through the qualifying round, in Group E.
Villarreal only confirmed their place in the draw this week after a 3-1 aggregate qualifying win over Norwegian side Odense. Seeded in Pot two alongside Valencia, the Yellow Submarine will welcome to El Madrigal European giants Bayern Munich, high-spending Manchester City who list David Silva and Sergio Aguero in their team, and Italians Napoli, who they knocked out of last season’s Europa League Round of 32.
Zenit St Petersburg
2011-12 Champions League competition schedule
Group stage (drawn August 25)
Matchday 1 – September 13-14
Matchday 2 – September 27-28
Matchday 3 – October 18-19
Matchday 4 – November 1-2
Matchday 5 – November 22-23
Matchday 6 – December 6-7
Round of 16 (drawn December 16)
First leg – February 14-15 & February 21-22
Second leg – March 6-7 & March 13-14
Quarter-finals (drawn March 16)
First leg – March 27-28
Second leg – April 3-4
Semi-finals (drawn March 16)
First leg – April 17-18
Second leg – April 24-25
Allianz Arena, Munich – May 19