Football

La Liga clubs handed mixed Champions League draw

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Spain have four representatives in the group stages of the 2014/15 Champions League. Following the draw, we look at the opponents that Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club will face in the competition this season.

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiacos, Malmo FF

La Liga champions Atletico Madrid have been pitted against Serie A winners Juventus, Greek Superleague holders Olympiacos and Malmo, winners of the Allsvenskan.

Both Juventus and Olympiacos are likely to be stern opposition for last year’s runners-up, with the latter making it into the knockout stages before losing to Manchester United.

Atletico remained unbeaten throughout the Champions League last year, eventually losing in extra time to rivals Real Madrid in the final.

Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets

Speaking of Real, they will be looking to become the first team in Champions League history to defend the title and will have to overcome the likes of Basel and Liverpool to do so.

Real Madrid are in group B for the second year in a row, and the ten-time winners will have to go toe-to-toe with five-time winners Liverpool as they make their return to Europe’s premier club competition after a five-year hiatus.

Real Madrid have never beaten Liverpool in three attempts, but have beaten Swiss group opponents Basel twice in two meetings.

Bulgarians Ludogorets will be making their debut in the competition after a thrilling win over Steaua Bucharest

Group F: Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, Apoel FC

Barcelona will have to best Dutch and French Champions Ajax and PSG respectively if they are to make it out the group and mount a serious challenge, having fallen in the quarter-finals last season.

Barcelona were drawn with Ajax in last year’s group stages, and beat them 4-0 at home, but lost 2-1 in Amsterdam.

PSG faced Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 2013, and were unlucky to be knocked out by the Catalan giants on away goals.

Barcelona will also face Cyprus champions Apoel Nicosia for the first time in their history, having not played in Cyprus since the Cup Winners Cup in 1996/97.

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UEFA Champions League group stage draw

Real Madrid to play Liverpool in UEFA Champions League group stage

Group H: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Club, Bate Borisov

Athletic Club have been rewarded for their 4-2 aggregate win over Napoli with a relatively easy group. They avoided some of the bigger tests in the group stages, with FC Porto likely to pose the biggest threat.

Having gone 16 years without Champions League football, it was important that Athletic were not given too difficult a group and they have every chance of qualifying. However Shakhtar and Bate Borisov are still threats, and have the potential exploit a thin squad.

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Topics:
Barcelona
Real Madrid
Football
Athletic Bilbao
UEFA Champions League

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