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Champions League: Messi’s Barca draw Ronaldo’s Juve, Bayern sweep UEFA awards

By Nurudeen Obalola

THE WORLD’S two most prominent players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, will face each other for the first time ever in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League this season.

Barcelona, featuring Messi, and Juventus, where Ronaldo stars, were drawn in the same group at Thursday’s group stage draw which placed 32 clubs in eight groups.

Barcelona and Juventus are in Group G along with Ukraine’s Dynamo Kiev and Hungary’s Ferencvaros.

Champions Bayern Munich are in Group A with last season’s quarter-finalists Atletico Madrid, Russia’s Lokomotiv Moscow and Austria’s RB Salzburg.

Real Madrid, who won four of the last seven Champions League titles, lead Group B, with Inter Milan the other favourites in the pool. Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk and Germany’s Borussia Monchegladbach make the sector.

Group C features big-spending but underwhelming Manchester City, FC Porto, Olympiacos of Greece and Marseille, while Group D contains 2019 winners and current English champions Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta and FC Midtjylland of Denmark.

The ‘group of death’ is undoubtedly Group H, which has Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and last season’s sensation RB Leipzig of Germany. Turkey’s Istanbul Basaksehir complete the pool.

During the draw ceremony, the awards for the best UEFA players and coach for last season were handed out.

Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski were named Best Goalkeeper, Best Defender and Best Forward respectively.

Lewandowski, who scored 15 goals in the competition, was also named Player of the Season. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne got the Best Midfielder award.Bayern Munich manager Hansi Flick, who also led them to win the UEFA Super Cup, was given the Coach of the Year gong.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUPS
Group A
Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
RB Salzburg
Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B
Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter
Borussia Monchegladbach

Group C
FC Porto
Manchester City
Olympiacos
Marseille

Group D
Liverpool
Ajax
Atalanta
FC Midtjylland

Group E
Sevilla
Chelsea
FC Krasnodar
Rennes

Group F
Zenit St Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund
Lazio
Club Brugge

Group G
Juventus
Barcelona
Dynamo Kyiv
Ferencvaros

Group H
Paris Saint-Germain
Manchester United
RB Leipzig
Istanbul Basaksehir

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