International Soccer

Barca, Milan drawn together in Champions League group stage

Fontvieille, Monaco (Sports Network) - European giants Barcelona and AC Milan were placed together in Group H on Thursday during UEFA's draw for the Champions League group stage.

The group is one of the tougest on hand as the additions of Scottish champions Celtic and Dutch champions Ajax have led to Group H being labeled the Group of Death.

Barcelona is quite familiar with two of its group stage opponents as the Catalans squared off against Celtic in last season's group stage and AC Milan in last season's Round of 16. The Hoops managed to earn a 2-1 victory over Barca at Parkhead to finsih runners-up to the Spanish side while the Rossoneri nearly produced an upset over Barcelona to reach the quarterfinals but ultimately was ousted by a 4-0 rout at Camp Nou.

It was also a second consecutive tough draw for Ajax after the Dutch side was placed in a group with Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid and Manchester City last term.

Group F can also be considered a Group of Death after Dortmund, last season's finalist, was drawn against English side Arsenal, French side Marseille and Serie A runner-up Napoli.

Bayern Munich, reigning European champions, will be favorites to advance from Group D along with Manchester City as the two European giants have been drawn with CSKA Moscow of Russia and Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic, while new Manchester United boss David Moyes was handed a potentially tricky draw in Group A as the Red Devils will go up against Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk, Germany's Bayer Leverkusen and Spain's Real Sociedad.

It looked as though Group B would turn out to be the Group of Death when Real Madrid was paired with Juventus, but the addition of Turkish club Galatasaray and Danish side FC Copenhagen makes the Spanish and Italian sides favorites to progress.

PSG appears to be a strong bet to advance beyond Group C as it looks to improve upon its quarterfinal finish last year. The French side has been drawn alongside Portugal's Benfica, Greece's Olympiakos and Belgium's Anderlecht.

Europa League-holding Chelsea have been drawn against Schalke, FC Basel and Steaua Bucharest in Group E as the Blues look to regain their Champions League throne from 2012, and Atletico Madrid has been dealt a rather generous draw in Group G as it gets set to face FC Porto, Zenit and Austria Vienna.

Matchday 1 for the group stage begins on Sept. 17 and 18.

Below is the full draw:

GROUP A: Manchester United (England) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) Bayer Leverkusen (Germany) Real Sociedad (Spain)

GROUP B: Real Madrid (Spain) Juventus (Italy) Galatasaray (Turkey) FC Copenhagen (Denmark)

GROUP C: Benfica (Portugal) PSG (France) Olympiacos (Greece) Anderlecht (Belgium)

GROUP D: Bayern Munich (Germany) CSKA Moscow (Russia) Manchester City (England) Plzen (Czech Rep.)

GROUP E: Chelsea (England) Schalke (Germany) FC Basel (Switzerland) Steaua Bucharest (Romania)

GROUP F: Arsenal (England) Marseille (France) Borussia Dortmund (Germany) Napoli (Italy)

GROUP G: FC Porto (Portugal) Atletico Madrid (Spain) Zenit (Russia) Austria Vienna (Austria)

GROUP H: Barcelona (Spain) AC Milan (Italy) Ajax (Netherlands) Celtic (Scotland)

08/29 13:26:49 ET

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