Manchester City face another struggle to make an impact in Champions League

Tough Champions League draw yet again for Pellegrini’s side

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The Independent Online

Manchester City have drawn a difficult Champions League group, for the fifth season in a row. Juventus, Sevilla and Borussia Mönchengladbach will make Group D yet another “group of death”, giving Manuel Pellegrini a difficult task as City try finally to make an impression on European competition.

In their four previous seasons in the Champions League, City have twice failed to qualify and twice finished second behind Bayern Munich, before being knocked out in the last 16 by Barcelona. While City have avoided those two European giants this season, they have arguably drawn the most competitive group in the whole stage, on a par with their opponents from 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Juventus, Italian champions for the fourth year in a row, and beaten finalists in this year’s Champions League final, were City’s opponents from the top pot. Even if they cannot keep one-time City target Paul Pogba, they will still be a force, having added Sami Khedira, Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala this summer. Sevilla, the Europa League winners for the past two years, and the first side to qualify for the Champions League through that route, could be just as difficult, having signed Fernando Llorente and Yevhen Konoplyanka this summer.

Finally, City face another trip to the Bundesliga – for the fifth year in a row – where they will face Mönchengladbach, whose key players are the Swiss duo Josip Drmic and Granit Xhaka.

Arsenal face the highest-profile opposition, welcoming 2013 champions Bayern Munich to the Emirates. It will be a familiar tale for Arsène Wenger’s side, who have been eliminated twice in recent years by the Bavarian giants. In 2013, on their way to the treble, Jupp Heynckes’ side beat the Gunners  3-1 at the Emirates before losing 2-0 at home, and so qualifying on away goals. The following year, with Pep Guardiola in charge, Bayern again won at the Emirates, 2-0, and qualified after a 1-1 draw at home.

Bayern remain one of the strongest teams in Europe, and have invested heavily this summer to upgrade their side, signing Arturo Vidal from Juventus and Douglas Costa from Shakhtar Donetsk. The rest of their group is slightly less intimidating, although Olympiakos will be tricky opponents, the featuring midfielder Esteban Cambiasso, who left Leicester City this summer. Croatian side Dynamo Zagreb complete the group.

Chelsea’s group should not challenge them on the pitch, although the travelling may take a lot out of them. There will be another reunion between Jose Mourinho and Porto, at the club where he won the 2003 Uefa Cup and 2004 Champions League before joining Chelsea first time round. They will also face Maccabi Tel Aviv, the Israeli side whose sports director is former Manchester United and Barcelona midfielder Jordi Cruyff. They are managed by Slavisa Jokanovic, the Serbian coach who took Watford to promotion to the Premier League last season. Finally, Chelsea will face Dynamo Kiev, who just beat Shakhtar Donetsk to the Ukrainian title last season.

The easiest draw among the English teams belonged to Manchester United. They have another short trip to the Low Countries, to face PSV Eindhoven, the Dutch champions from whom they signed Memphis Depay for £25m earlier this summer.

United will also face Wolfsburg, another good side set to lose their star player if Kevin De Bruyne joins Manchester City for £52m. Wolfsburg do have the impressive Swiss full-back Ricardo Rodriguez and former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner in their side, but they should not present United with too much of a challenge. Finally, United have a long-haul trip to Russia to play CSKA Moscow, whose coach, Leonid Slutsky, combines the job with managing the Russian national team.

In other groups, reigning champions Barcelona have drawn Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov. Benfica will face the longest journey of the season, flying across Europe to face Kazakh side FC Astana, in a group with 2014 runners-up Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray. The 2014 winners Real Madrid have drawn Paris Saint-Germain, Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo, meaning that PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will face the Swedish side where he began his career. In Group H, Valencia and Zenit St Petersburg are drawn with Lyons and Ghent.

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