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Champions League

FCB face Juve, Girondins and Haifa

Bayern have been drawn in a tough but intriguing Champions League Group A with Turin giants Juventus, French champions Girondins Bordeaux and Israeli cracks Maccabi Haifa. Italy’s most successful club Juventus pose the biggest threat to Munich's progress, although the German champions will be happy to have avoided the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Olympique Lyon, all potential opponents at this stage.

Juve, who boast former Bayern favourite Hasan Salihamidzic in their ranks, are twice previous winners and five-time runners-up in the European Champions Cup/Champions League, while Bordeaux are coached by 1998 World Cup winner Laurent Blanc. Maccabi are the underdogs in the section, but as 11-time Israeli champions certainly not to be underestimated.

Serious obstacles

“We’ve been given some tough nuts to crack,” commented FCB general manager Uli Hoeneß, who followed the draw at the launch event for Bayern’s new Champions League kit. “But there’s no team in the group not capable of beating any of the others,” Hoeneß continued. “The most important thing is to survive the group stage, which would take us closer to our dream of making the final again at some point in the future.”

“It’s not an easy group, all the teams are in a position to beat the others,” club captain Mark van Bommel agreed. “There’s no team there you can just turn up and beat. It’ll be very, very difficult,” added Van Bommel’s deputy Philipp Lahm. “It’s a tough group – but we’re Bayern Munich,” striker Luca Toni said in a first reaction.

Opener in Israel

This week's ten play-off winners joined the 22 automatic entrants in Thursday's group-stage draw, which took place at its usual venue, the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. The draw was performed in part by UEFA Player of the Year winners Edwin van der Saar, John Terry, Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi. A total of 18 nations are represented in the group stage this season.

Bayern open their campaign on 15 September away to Israeli champions Maccabi. On 30 September, with the Oktoberfest in full swing, Juventus visit the Allianz Arena, before the Bavarians travel to Bordeaux three weeks later on 21 October. The return at home to Girondins takes place on 3 November, followed by another home game on 25 November when Haifa come to visit, The concluding group fixture takes FCB to Turin on 8 December. The top two from the group progress to the first knockout round draw on 18 December. The third-place finishers enter the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

Champions League 2009-10 group stage

Group A: Bayern, Juventus, Girondins Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa

Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, VfL Wolfsburg

Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Olympique Marseille, FC Zurich

Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, APOEL Nicosia

Group E: Liverpool, Olympique Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni VSC

Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan

Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni

Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos Piraeus, Standard Liege