MONACO, BALIPOST.com – Barcelona will have to come through a section containing both Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan after the three former winners all came out together in Thursday’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco, while holders Liverpool will face Napoli again.
Barcelona, Dortmund and Inter, with nine European Cups between them, were drawn together in Group F along with the Czech champions Slavia Prague.
Beaten by Liverpool in the semi-finals last season, Lionel Messi and Barcelona remain favourites to advance as they seek a first Champions League crown since 2015.
Dortmund won the trophy in 1997 and lost in the final in 2013. Now coached by Antonio Conte, Inter beat Barcelona in the semi-finals en route to winning the most recent of their three titles in 2010.
“That really is a very tough group, which makes it an even bigger challenge for us,” said the Dortmund coach, Lucien Favre. His team host Barca in the opening round of matches on Tuesday, September 17.
Liverpool advanced from their group at the expense of Napoli last season on the way to lifting their sixth European Cup in Madrid, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side now have a chance to gain revenge.
Beaten in Naples a year ago, Liverpool will head back to the San Paolo in their first match on September 17.
Both clubs will be fancied to progress from Group E, which is completed by Austrian champions Salzburg and Genk, the Belgian title-holders.
“Napoli again! I don’t know how often I’ve now played against Napoli, but they’re obviously a very experienced side,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who faced the Italians with Dortmund in the 2013-14 group stage.
Liverpool are hoping to return to this year’s final which will be played in Istanbul, where they won their fifth title back in 2005. (AFP)