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The Champions League group stage will get under way in September, with FC Barcelona kicking off on the 16th away to AS Roma. The competition will include 15 players and six coaches with a Barça past.
21 names spread over 12 different clubs out of the 32 that will contest this opening phase of the tournament. We take a look at them group by group.
Keita and Iago in Barça’s group
FC Barcelona were drawn in Group E last Thursday in Monaco alongside Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and BATE Borisov. Luis Enrique’s team open their group fixtures with a trip to Italy where they could come up against former blaugranes Seydou Keita and Iago Falqué in the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Belarussians BATE have Alexander Hleb in their ranks, the midfielder was a Barça player between 2008 and 2012.
Strong Barça flavour in Group F
This group is the one with the greatest presence of former blaugrana names. Premier League side Arsenal finished third in the league last season and have ex-Barça players Héctor Bellerín and Alexis Sánchez in their squad. Also in the group are Bayern Munich side coached by former FC Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and also containing ex-blaugrana Thiago Alcántara. Defender Alberto Botía made one appearance for the Barça first team in 2009 and now plies his trade at Olympiacos in Greece, also in group F. The quartet of teams is rounded off by Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb.
Group G also has some names from the past at FC Barcelona. At Chelsea we find Cesc Fàbregas and Pedro amongst the playing staff and José Mourinho as coach. The current Premier League champions find themselves in the same group as FC Porto, whose coach Julen Lopetegui and striker Cristian Tello are both former Barça men. Dynamo Kyiv and Maccabi Tel Aviv complete the line up in group F.
The group of death for Touré and Cáceres
Possibly the toughest of all line ups can be found in group D. Last season’s runners-up to FC Barcelona, Juventus can boast Uruguayan Martín Cáceres in their ranks. The current Serie A champions will have to contend with Manchester City in the group stage, the current home of former Barça midfielder Touré Yaya. Europa League winners Sevilla and the former club of Marc-André ter Stegen, Borussia Mönchengladbach, make it a formidable foursome in the group.
Coaches with a past
Pep Guardiola, Julen Lopetegui and José Mourinho are not the only coaches with a Barça past in this season’s Champions League. In group A we find a Paris Saint-Germain coached by former blaugrana defender Laurent Blanc and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Maxwell and Thiago Motta amongst their stars. Real Madrid, Shaktar Donetsk and Malmö complete the list In group B PSV Eindhoven are coached by Dutchman Philip Cocu, a man who was a Barça player under coach Louis Van Gaal, now manager at Manchester United who are in the same group alongside CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg.
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