Created on 28-08-2008 at 00:00 AM
505 days after Bayern's last match in the Champions League, a 2-0 home defeat to AC Milan in April 2007, the German champions return to European football's top table on Thursday evening when the draw for this season's Champions League group stage takes place in Monaco. Bayern are in Pot 2, guaranteeing the Bavarians a home and away clash with one of the continent's biggest clubs this autumn.
One of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona, Arsenal, Lyon, Inter Milan and Real Madrid will be grouped with Bayern, as the Munich club have the ninth-best UEFA coefficient and thus narrowly miss out on a place in Pot 1 with the eight most successful teams in Europe over recent years.
32 clubs, 4 pots, 8 groups
"Obviously, I'm hoping for a group with not too many huge names,“ commented Michael Rensing on the eve of the draw. The Champions League group stage draw features 32 teams divided into four pots, to be drawn into eight groups comprising one team from each pot. "There's no such thing as an easy group in the Champions League,“ Rensing said, "you can't underestimate any of the teams which have made it to the last 32.“
While the Bayern stars will certainly have ideas as to their favourite potential opponents, the chief emotion is delight at the club's impending return to Europe's elite competition "After spending last season in the UEFA Cup, I'm looking forward to the Champions League even more this term,“ Rensing continued, "I'm delighted we're about to test ourselves against the top teams again. Bayern are back where we belong. We're really going to go for it this season.“