Sports, Football

PSG, Man City to meet at Champions League group stage

Published : 27 Aug 2021 07:55 PM

AFP, Istanbul

Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City, two of the leading candidates to win the Champions League, will face each other in the group stage of this season’s competition after coming out together in Thursday’s draw.

Pep Guardiola’s City beat PSG in the semi-finals of last season’s Champions League on the way to losing the final to Chelsea in Porto.

Qatar-owned Paris responded to that disappointment by signing Lionel Messi and there is a chance that the two meetings of the clubs could see the Argentine come up against his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese forward is being strongly linked with a move to Abu Dhabi-owned City from Juventus before the European transfer window closes on Tuesday, August 31. “It is special, Manchester City are one of the best teams in Europe and have been fighting to win the Champions League for 10 years,” said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino.

“The challenge is to try to finish first in the group.”

The clubs are in Group A along with RB Leipzig and Belgian champions Club Brugge.

Leipzig were already in a group with PSG last season, the two sides qualifying for the last 16 ahead of Manchester United.

The Germans, who also lost to PSG in the 2020 semi-finals, lost coach Julian Nagelsmann to Bayern Munich in the summer and replaced him with the American Jesse Marsch. Holders Chelsea will play Juventus in Group H and both clubs will be expected to advance from a section also including Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg and Malmo.

The Swedish champions knocked out Steven Gerrard’s Rangers in the third qualifying round.

Saint Petersburg will host this season’s Champions League final on May 28 next year.

Thursday’s draw in Istanbul also saw Barcelona come out in a fascinating Group E along with Bayern, Benfica and Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev.

For Barca it will be a first meeting with Bayern since they were humbled 8-2 by the German giants in Benfica's Estadio da Luz in Lisbon in the quarter-finals a year ago. Ronald Koeman’s side are embarking on a first Champions League campaign since the departure of Messi, with whom they last lifted the trophy in 2015.

“Barcelona is a different team without Messi, but they still have good players in their ranks. We want to get through the group, ideally as winners,” said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.