Team-by-team guide to the sides that make up Group D in this season's Champions League...
The Bavarians are the current Champions League holders following a 2-1 victory against domestic rival Borussia Dortmund in last season’s competition. Bayern enjoyed an historic 2013, winning the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal under former coach Jupp Heynckes. Bayern have been extremely competitive in the competition in recent seasons, with three finals appearances since 2010. The German side will be looking to become the first team in the competitions history to retain the title under new manager and two-time winner Pep Guardiola. New signings Thiago and Mario Götze will also look to impress.
Key player – Arjen Robben (Netherlands): A mercurial winger who likes to cut in from the right. Robben has enjoyed a fine run of form in the competition in recent seasons. Robben was named man of the match in last year’s final following a goal and assist.
Manager – Pep Guardiola (Spain): Guardiola is a two-time Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. He has won the Spanish league three times and the Copa Del Rey twice. This is his first season at Bayern Munich following the retirement of Jupp Heynckes.
Champions League best finish: Champions: 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, & 2013.
Did you know?: Bayern have been runners up five times in the competition, which is a shared record with Juventus.
CSKA had an extremely successful 2012/2013 season as they achieved a league and cup double. CSKA could not replicate their domestic form in European competition however as they were knocked out of the Europa League play-off round by Swedish side AIK.
Key player – Alan Dzagoev (Russia): An exciting Russian attacking midfield prospect who burst onto the scene in Euro 2012. Dzagoev is the attacking linchpin of the CSKA side and will have to recreate his best form to give the team a chance of moving forward in this year’s competition.
Manager – Leonid Slutsky (Russia): Slutsky has been the manager of CSKA since 2009 and in that time has won the Russian league once and Russian cup on two occasions.
Champions League best finish: Quarter Finals 2010
Did you know? CSKA’s original nickname; The Horses, came from the fact that their training facilities was previously located in a horses stable.
Premier League runners-up Manchester City have a poor Champions League record and new manager Manuel Pellegrini is the man charged with improving their results this time round. With almost £100m spent on transfers this summer, City are expecting a marked improvement this year after they became the only English team ever to fail to win any of their six group stage games last season.
Key Player – David Silva: Creative forward who still stands out even amongst City’s new recruits this summer.
Manager – Manuel Pellegrini: Led his previous side Malaga to the Champions League quarter-finals last season, losing to eventual runners-up Borussia Dortmund.
Champions League best finish: Group stage 2011/12, 2012/13.
Did you know? City are the third English team to finish bottom of their Champions League group after Manchester United in 2005/6 and Blackburn Rovers in 1995/6.
Plznen qualified for the Champions league for the first time last season and reached the group stage following qualifiers. They have repeated the feat this season as a result of becoming Czech champions and overcoming Maribor 4-1 on aggregate in a playoff.
Key Player – Stanislav Tecl(Czechoslovakia): Tecl is a new acquisition for Plznen but they will rely on his goal scoring abilities this term. Tecl has a record of around 1 goal in every two matches.
Manager – Pavel Vrba (Czechoslovakia): Vrba was made Plznen head coach in 2008 after winning the Slovak super Liga with Zilina in 2007. He has gone on to win the Gambrinus Liga twice as well as the Czech Supercup and Cup in 2011 and 2010 respectively.
Champions League best finish: Group Stage 2012
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