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Champions League group stage draw

Manchester City, CSKA and Roma!

It is a case of deja-vu for Bayern in the preliminary phase of this season’s Champions League after the 2013 winners were drawn to play two of their opponents from the same stage last year, English Premier League champions Manchester City and Russian cracks CSKA Moscow. Bayern were first out of the hat on the night, but there was a twist in the tail when the last ball saw Italian giants AS Roma complete the Group E line-up.

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 Real Madrid captains Iker Casillas, Fernando Hierro, Manuel Sanchis and Franciso Gento, and ambassador for the 2014 final, former Dortmund star Karl-Heinze Riedle.

The Bayern delegation comprised club president Karl Hopfner, chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, and his fellow board director Andreas Jung. Hopfner felt FCB had landed in “the toughest group,” whereas Rummenigge found the section “difficult but interesting. We’ll have to be focused right from the start if we’re to make the Round of 16.” Back in Munich, Matthias Sammer’s verdict was upbeat: “Normally you have at least one or even two easier opponents in the group stage but that’s not the case this time. The group is extremely attractive and very difficult, but also the right challenge for us. We have to be up for it right at the start, and that’s good for us."

Roma reunion for new boy Mehdi

The clash with Roma has special significance for new Munich signing Mehdi Benatia, who played for the Serie A side last season and finished as a league runner-up. Bayern last met the Italians in the 2010/11 group phase, winning 2-0 in Germany but falling to a narrow 3-2 defeat away from home. English champions City finished level on points at the top of the section last season but Munich won the group on the head-to-head comparison after winning 3-1 in Manchester and losing 3-2 at the Allianz Arena. CSKA came fourth and bottom last year with the Reds winning 3-0 in the Russian capital and 3-1 at home.

The seedings and assignments into pots were determined according to UEFA coefficients based on performance over the last five seasons. Each of the eight groups includes one team from each pot. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn together at the group stage, so Bayern could not have faced Schalke or Borussia Dortmund (both in pot two), or Bayer Leverkusen (pot three). The group stage matches all kick off at the usual time of 8.45 pm CET, with the exception of the away fixture in Moscow, which is brought forward due to the difference in time zones. FCB set out on the 2014/15 campaign in the home clash with City on Wednesday 17 September. The 2014/15 final takes place at Berlin Olympic Stadium on 6 June 2015.

Bayern’s Group E fixtures:

17 September: Manchester City (H)
30 September: CSKA Moscow (A)
21 October: AS Roma (A)
5 November: AS Roma (H)
25 November: Manchester City (A)
10 December: CSKA Moscow (H)