Former Dutch international Wesley Sneijder shows the name of Liverpool during the UEFA Champions League group stage draw in Monaco. Reuters
Barcelona will have to come through a group 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.
Premier League champions Manchester City were handed the kindest draw of all four English representatives, with Pep Guardiola’s men coming up against Italian debutants Atalanta along with Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb in Group C.
City beat Shakhtar 3-0 in Ukraine in last season’s group stage before a 6-0 victory in the return fixture.
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.
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.
Both clubs will be fancied to progress from Group E, which is completed by Austrian champions Salzburg and Genk, the Belgian title-holders.
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.
After losing in last season’s final, Tottenham Hotspur can look forward to a meeting with German champions Bayern Munich in Group B.
That will be the first meeting of the clubs since the 1983-84 UEFA Cup. They will also meet Greek champions Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade of Serbia, the 1991 European Cup winners, in Group B.
After winning the Europa League, Chelsea are back in the Champions League and can look forward to taking on last season’s semi-finalists Ajax as well as former Champions League runners-up Valencia and Lille in Group H.
There will be glamour ties between familiar opponents elsewhere, with Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid renewing acquaintances with Paris Saint-Germain in Group A.
Real eliminated the French champions in the last 16 on the way to winning the trophy two seasons ago.
Turkish champions Galatasaray and Club Brugge of Belgium complete Group A.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus will come up against Atletico Madrid again after beating the Spanish side in the last 16 last season. They will also face Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow in Group D.
Perhaps the most balanced section sees Zenit Saint Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon and RB Leipzig clash in Group G. The first fixtures in all groups will be played on September 17 and 18.
Meanwhile, Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk won the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award on Thursday, edging out Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, while Lucy Bronze took the women’s prize.
Dutchman Van Dijk starred as Liverpool won their sixth European Cup last season with a 2-0 Champions League final victory over Tottenham in Madrid.
“I need to thank my teammates, without them I would not have achieved what I have achieved,” Van Dijk told BT Sport.
“It’s been a long road and it’s part of my journey. I’m very proud to get this trophy. It’s credit to everyone who has helped me.”
The 28-year-old is the first defender to win the award since the inaugural edition in 2010-11.
He moved to Liverpool from Southampton in January 2018 for a then-world record fee for a defender of £75 million ($91.4 million), immediately helping them reach that season’s Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid.
But Van Dijk was a key figure as Liverpool won their first major trophy since 2012 last term, while also setting a club-record points tally in finishing second by a point behind Manchester City in the Premier League.
“I wasn’t 18 and went straight to the top. I had to work every step of the way,” added Van Dijk, who was also part of the Netherlands side who lost the inaugural Nations League final to Ronaldo’s Portugal.
The coronavirus-enforced shutdown of English football was extended until at least April 30 on Thursday after the Premier League and English Football League held crisis talks.
UEFA’s decision to postpone Euro 2020 for 12 months on Tuesday buys European club football some time to decide how to proceed, but extremely difficult decisions lie ahead on how, if and when to finish the season.
Lyon continued their reign as Europe’s dominant women’s team on Sunday, beating Wolfsburg 3-1 in the Champions League final to win the trophy for the fifth year running with Japan star Saki Kumagai’s goal proving crucial.
Hyderabad got off to a faltering start as they lost David Warner just 10 runs on the board. He holed out to Udana off Washington Sundar.
Seven-time UAE champion trainer Doug Watson combined with Sam Hitchcott to steal the show with a hat-trick while Salem Bin Ghadayer and Royston Ffrench enjoyed a double.
To win the targeted trophy, a team must feature in the top four of the IPL 2020 points table.
Delhi’s dismal run in the tournament thus continues, which leaves them on 14 points -- behind Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) -- who too have same number of points, but are second, courtesy of a better net run rate.