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Champions League

FCB grouped with Valencia, Lille and Borisov

Bayern face a challenging but manageable task in the preliminary phase of this season’s Champions League after being drawn to play Spanish side Valencia, 2011 French champions OSC Lille, and Belarus outfit BATE Borisov in Group F.

“The group presents medium difficulty,” said FCB board member for sport Matthias Sammer in an initial reaction. “Our aim is clear enough: we want to make the next stage as group winners. If we turn in strong performances we'll impose ourselves on the group, but if we're in poor shape we'll have problems. Valencia are one of the top teams in Spain, so we'll prepare well."

The draw for the first stage of Europe’s elite club competition was made at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on Thursday evening, supervised as always by UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino, and conducted on this occasion by former Manchester United, Manchester City and Scotland stalwart Denis Law, ex-Milan striker George Weah, Dutch legend Ruud Gullit, and Italian World Cup winner Fabio Cannavaro.

FCB open at home to Valencia

The Bayern delegation was headed by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and included the chairman’s fellow board directors Karl Hopfner and Andreas Jung. The group stage matches all kick off at 8.45 pm CET as usual. The final takes place at Wembley on 25 May 2013.

“It's definitely a manageable group for us - on paper. But the Champions League is difficult and you have to respect all your opponents,” commented Jupp Heynckes. The line-up is certainly less challenging than last year’s section with Napoli and City, but Sammer echoed the coach’s warning not to take anything for granted: “We mustn’t underestimate any of the other teams,” the official said.

As to the schedule, Bayern open the campaign at home to Valencia on 19 September. Munich are on the road for their next two matches, away to Es Borisov on 2 October and Lille on 23 October, with the side which finished third in Ligue 1 last term due at the Allianz Arena for the return on 7 November. The most difficult match on paper, the trip to Valencia, takes place on 20 November, with the sixth and final match against Borisov in Munich on 5 December.