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Man United gets Celtic in Champions League draw

Man United gets Celtic in Champions League draw

Defending champion Manchester United will face British rival Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League.
United will also meet Villarreal and Aalborg in the 32-team phase, with the first round held on Sept. 16-17.
United coach Alex Ferguson was relishing defending the trophy and wants points on the board straight away.
"That is a great challenge," Ferguson said on Thursday. "The challenge is to make sure you get 10 points as quick as you can. I think we have the squad for it."
Celtic striker Scott McDonald was thrilled with drawing a defending champion for the second straight year.
"We always love to draw the champion of Europe as we did last year (with FC Barcelona)," McDonald said. "All of those things add up to good things and get us to the next round again. They're going to be fantastic games."
Despite clinching the English Premier League and Champions League last season for the second time in his career _ he guided United to the treble in 1999 _ Ferguson does not consider United to be the favorite.
"You can't begin to think you're the favorite when you see teams like Milan, Barcelona, Juventus ... all these great names," Ferguson said.
Club captain Gary Neville expects the injury-hit squad to be stretched, as it also defends the Premier League title.
"We've got a big squad and we're going to need that with the amount of games we've got this season," he said.
However, United chief executive David Gill stresses how the close proximity of opponents will reduce travel time.
"The way the games have fallen means our first game is at home to Villarreal between our trips to Liverpool and Chelsea, which is good," Gill said.
That is not the case for Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger in Group G. His team faces long trips to Turkey, to play Fenerbahce, and to Ukraine, against Dynamo Kiev. Arsenal, the 2006 runner-up, also takes on FC Porto.
"Arsene's main issue will be the travel," Arsenal director Danny Fiszman said. "Kiev and Fenerbahce are long trips. That is the real issue for us."
Villarreal midfielder Robert Pires, who played against United several times with Arsenal, suggested his side's best hope was finishing runner-up.
"It's a difficult group because we are playing the best team in the world," Pires said.
United's trip to Villarreal in Group E will revive bad memories of striker Wayne Rooney's sending off there in September 2005 as Ferguson's side failed to progress into the knockout phase.
Chelsea, which lost May's final on penalty kicks to the Red Devils, also has a relatively easy Group E, featuring AS Roma, which hosts May's final at the Stadio Olimpico, Bordeaux and newcomer CFR Cluj.
"Chelsea certainly has a leg up on the other teams in the group, but we have to count on the hard work that we have done in the past few years," Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said. "We are ready for this challenge."
Liverpool will meet Marseille for a second straight season, and the Reds' Spain star Fernando Torres will return to former club Atletico Madrid. Group D also features PSV Eindhoven.
"With Fernando and the other Spanish players, there will be huge, huge interest in that one," Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said. "It's great. That's what makes the Champions League so exciting. It's fantastic."
Atletico's Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, however, said the Liverpool match should not be hyped as a contest between him and Torres.
"We're 11 against 11," Aguero said. "They have, as well as Torres, very good players, just like we have here."
Marseille, which won the Champions League in 1993, was thumped 4-0 at home by Liverpool last season as it exited in the first round.
"It is a tough draw for us," Marseille president Pape Diouf said. "Atletico Madrid and Eindhoven are also good. Perhaps we will need to be that little bit more motivated."
Juventus has a tough return to the lucrative competition in Group H after a two-year absence. The Italians will have to overcome Real Madrid, UEFA Cup winner Zenit St. Petersburg and Belarussian champion BATE Borisov.
New Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola will be pleased with Group C, which includes Sporting Lisbon, FC Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, looking to repeat his 2004 Champions League triumph with FC Porto, will have to negotiate Werder Bremen, Panathinaikos and Anorthosis Famagusta in Group B.
Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni will play former club Fiorentina in Group F, which also includes Lyon and Steaua Bucharest.
"Lyon is a tough nut to crack, Fiorentina has its appeal because of Luca Toni," Bayern Munich coach Juergen Klinsmann said.
Having won seven straight French titles, Lyon has made winning the Champions League for the first time the top priority _ even though Lyon has never been beyond the quarterfinals.
"We will have to pick up points everywhere in the knowledge that no one is safe," Lyon coach Claude Puel said. "It's very open."


Updated : 2021-10-22 15:44 GMT+08:00