Champions League

Spanish giants to be feared in Champions League draw

2016-08-25 14:13
Cristiano Ronaldo (Getty)

Monaco - The eyes of European football will be on Monaco on Thursday as holders Real Madrid and the rest of the continent's elite discover their fate when the Champions League group-stage draw is made.

Zinedine Zidane's side won the trophy last season - a record 11th in the club's history - as Cristiano Ronaldo scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out against city rivals Atletico after the final in Milan finished 1-1.

That allowed Spanish clubs to continue their recent domination of the Champions League, with Madrid and Barcelona exchanging the trophy over the last three years and Atletico appearing in two of the last three finals.

The aim now for Madrid is to become the first team to retain the trophy in the Champions League era - the last club to win back-to-back European Cups was AC Milan in 1990.

"This is the reason I came to Madrid - to play in the Champions League, to win the Champions League," Madrid star Gareth Bale said in an interview with UEFA.com.

"Two in three years is an amazing achievement. Now we want to look to the next one. It's obviously a massive motivation for us all to be the first team to retain the Champions League."

Getting to this year's final would be that bit more special for Bale for another reason - it's being played in his hometown, the Welsh capital Cardiff.

The final at the Principality Stadium will be played on June 3 next year, with the opening group games set for September 13 and 14.

LEICESTER IN POT ONE

Joining continental giants Real, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica in the first pot of clubs will be the Russian champions CSKA Moscow and Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City.

Fresh from their remarkable Premier League title triumph last season, Leicester will appear in Europe's elite competition for the first time.

Their last appearance in Europe ended in a UEFA Cup first-round defeat to Red Star Belgrade in 2000.

"I hope we are ready, not just to listen to the music but to do some music," was how Ranieri put it back in the spring as he looked ahead to the Champions League nights in store at the King Power Stadium.

An unkind draw could see Leicester grouped together with Atletico or 1997 winners and 2013 runners-up Borussia Dortmund from the second pot, Dynamo Kiev from pot three and Monaco - one of Ranieri's old sides - from pot four.

As for the other Premier League representatives, Arsenal and Manchester City will be in pot two and Tottenham Hotspur in pot three.

Spain, England and Germany will all have four clubs in the group stage, while Portugal and France will each have three.

Russian side Rostov feature for the first time after ousting Anderlecht and Ajax to qualify, while Celtic are back in the group stage for the first time in three years after edging out Hapoel Be'er Sheva of Israel in the play-offs.

"It is an incredible moment for the supporters. They are going to be back in amongst Europe's elite and it is where Celtic belong," said the Scottish champions' manager Brendan Rodgers.

It is also where the money is - each club is guaranteed 12 million euros (10.2 million pounds, $13.5 million) just from being in the group stage but in reality they will bank a lot more than that.

Real reportedly earned in the region of 94 million euros in total from winning the competition last season, roughly the same as what Italian champions and 2015 Champions League runners-up Juventus paid to sign Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli this summer. 

Read more on:    uefa champions league  |  soccer
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Fixtures
18 October 2016
CSKA Moscow v Monaco, Arena CSKA 20:45
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Tottenham Hotspur, BayArena 20:45
Sporting Lisbon v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Jose Alvalade 20:45
Club Brugge v FC Porto, Jan Breydelstadion 20:45
Leicester City v FC København, King Power Stadium 20:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Sevilla, Maksimir 20:45
Lyon v Juventus, Parc OL 20:45
Real Madrid v Legia Warsaw, Santiago Bernabeu 20:45
19 October 2016
FC Bayern München v PSV, Allianz Arena 20:45
Barcelona v Manchester City, Camp Nou 20:45
Celtic v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Celtic Park 20:45
Arsenal v Ludogorets Razgrad, Emirates Stadium 20:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Benfica, Kiev Olympic Stadium 20:45
FC Rostov v Atlético de Madrid, Olimp-2 Stadium 20:45
Paris Saint-Germain v FC Basel, Parc des Princes 20:45
Napoli v Besiktas, San Paolo 20:45
01 November 2016
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Celtic, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Barcelona, Etihad Stadium 21:45
PSV v FC Bayern München, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Paris Saint-Germain, St Jakob-Park 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v FC Rostov, Vicente Calderon 21:45
Besiktas v Napoli, Vodafone Arena 21:45
02 November 2016
FC Porto v Club Brugge, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Juventus v Lyon, Juventus Stadium 21:45
FC København v Leicester City, Parken Stadion 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Real Madrid, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Sporting Lisbon, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v CSKA Moscow, Stade Louis II 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Wembley 21:45
22 November 2016
CSKA Moscow v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arena CSKA 19:00
Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Leicester City v Club Brugge, King Power Stadium 21:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, Maksimir 21:45
FC København v FC Porto, Parken Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Juventus, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Legia Warsaw, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v Tottenham Hotspur, Stade Louis II 21:45
23 November 2016
FC Rostov v FC Bayern München, Olimp-2 Stadium 19:00
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City, Borussia-Park 21:45
Celtic v Barcelona, Celtic Park 21:45
Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Napoli v Dynamo Kyiv, San Paolo 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Basel, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v PSV, Vicente Calderon 21:45
Besiktas v Benfica, Vodafone Arena 21:45
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