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Manchester United will face Paris St-Germain, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League group stage this season.

Premier League champions Liverpool will have to negotiate a group containing Ajax, Atalanta and Danish side Midtjylland.

Chelsea will play Europa League winners Sevilla, Krasnodar and debutants Rennes.

Manchester City are in Group D with Porto, Olympiakos and Marseille.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are set to face each other after Juventus and Barcelona were drawn in Group G, while holders Bayern Munich will face Atletico Madrid in Group A.

The draw, which also saw Real Madrid and Inter Milan paired in Group B, took place without club officials present because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And it was a particularly tough draw for Manchester United, who will play last season’s beaten finalists PSG, as well as 2020 semi-finalists RB Leipzig.

This year’s group stage begins on Tuesday, 20 October with the final on Saturday, 29 May 2021 at the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul.

Group-stage draw in full:
Group A: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B: Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach

Group C: Porto, Manchester City, Olympiakos, Marseille

Group D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland

Group E: Sevilla, Chelsea, FK Krasnodar, Rennes

Group F: Zenit St Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund, Lazio, Bruges

Group G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencvaros

Group H: Paris St-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir

Fans to return for big Champions League nights?
Following Thursday’s draw it was announced fans could make a partial return to Uefa matches for the first time since March – where local laws permit.

Starting during the October international break, fans will be capped at 30% of a stadium’s capacity but away supporters will not be able to attend.

Social distancing will be mandatory and additional precautionary measures such as mask-wearing must be implemented in accordance with local rules.

Uefa’s decision comes after over 15,000 supporters attended a pilot in the Super Cup match between Bayern Munich and Sevilla in Budapest on 24 September.

In a statement, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin, described the decision as “a sensible first step which puts fans’ health first and respects the laws in each country”.

Messi v Ronaldo
It has been one of the greatest rivalries in world football for the past decade – and now Messi and Ronaldo will go head-to-head once more in the Champions League.

When Barcelona were drawn with Juventus in Group C, fans around the world immediately started looking forward to a meeting between the two.

The pair have won 11 of the past 12 Ballon d’Or awards, Messi winning a record six and Ronaldo five.

Of their 35 competitive meetings, Messi has been victorious 16 times to Ronaldo’s 10 with the remaining nine fixtures ending in a draw.

Ronaldo, though, leads the way in Champions League successes, winning the trophy five times compared to Messi’s four.

United outsiders to progress’ – Analysis
If they were hoping for some escape from the pressure on them to make new signings when the Champions League draw was made, Manchester United did not get it.

Facing two of last season’s semi-finalists – and a long trip to Turkey – is not what they would have wanted from their Pot Two seeding. It means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men will be outsiders even to make it through.

If there is one straw to clutch at, it is the memory of their 3-1 win over PSG at the Parc de Princes two seasons ago which overturned a 2-0 defeat from the home leg. It was one of the greatest nights in their illustrious European history.

England’s three other group-stage entrants will be reasonably satisfied.

Chelsea have been drawn with Europa League winners Sevilla, who accounted for United and Wolves on their run to the final in Cologne, where they beat Inter Milan, but Frank Lampard will fancy his side to get out of a group that contains French side Rennes and Russian newcomers Krasnodar.

So disappointed to exit at the quarter-final stage in August thanks to their shock defeat by Lyon, Manchester City drew possibly the easiest top seed, Porto, plus Olympiakos and Marseille, two sides they have never met before.

Liverpool, winners in 2019 and beaten finalists the year before, face another club with a magnificent European history, Ajax, who they have remarkably only played in one other tie, back in 1966, when the Dutch side came out on top over two legs.

They have never played their other two opponents, Atalanta and Midtjylland, but it would be a major surprise if Jurgen Klopp’s team did not reach the last 16.

Champions League stats

  • Champions League Returns
  • Manchester United have progressed from the group stages in 82% of their previous Champions League campaigns (18/22), last failing to do so back in 2015-16 under Louis van Gaal.
  • Since Alex Ferguson retired, Manchester United’s best finishes in the Champions League have been two quarter-final appearances – in 2013-14 under David Moyes and most recently in 2018-19, under Ole Gunnar Solskjær.
  • Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has progressed past the Champions League group stages in six of his seven seasons managing in the competition, going on to reach the final three times – he lost with Borussia Dortmund in 2013 and Liverpool in 2018, before winning it with the Reds in 2019 versus Spurs.
  • Liverpool have lost each of their last four away Champions League games at Italian clubs – two against Napoli (2018 and 2019) and once each against Roma (2018) and Fiorentina (2009).
  • Manchester City have won 13 of their last 18 Champions League matches (D3 L2), with their two defeats in this run coming at the quarter-final stage vs Spurs in 2018-19 and Lyon in 2019-20.
  • In his first seven seasons as a manager in the Champions League as manager of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola reached at least the semi-final of the competition in each campaign – in his four as Man City boss, Guardiola has not gone beyond the quarter-final stage.
  • Chelsea have only lost one of their last 14 Champions League group stage games at Stamford Bridge (W9 D4) – their lone defeat in this run is the only time in the previous 30 home group stage games they have failed to score in (0-1 v Valencia).
  • Sevilla will be fifth different Spanish side Chelsea have met in the Champions League, with the Blues unbeaten in the first meeting with each of previous four (W3 D1).

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