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Barça have learned who they will be playing in the group stage of the 2014/15 Champions League. The Catalans’ quest to win the title for the fifth time begins in Group F, where today’s draw in Monaco paired them up with Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax Amsterdam and APOEL Nicosia.
French champions Paris St Germain were the first of Barça’s opponents to be revealed, a repeat of the 1996/97 Cup Winners Cup Final, which Barça won 1-0 in Rotterdam, and more recently the 2012/13 Champions League quarter final, which saw the two sides draw 3-3 on aggregate, with FCB progressing on the away goals rule. It also means a re-encounter with three players with an FC Barcelona past, Thiago Motta, Maxwell and, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimović.
There were some tough potential opponents in Pot 3, and destiny decided that Barça should face Ajax Amsterdam in the group stages for the second season in a row. Despite the many historic links between Barça and Ajax, the two meetings in the 2013/14 group stage were the first ever between the two sides. Barça won 4-0 at the Camp Nou and lost 2-1 in Holland. Twelve months later and it’s all going to happen again.
Barça’s third and final opponent is a refreshing change. They will be going to Cyprus for only the second time ever, after first visiting the country in the 1996/97 Cup Winners Cup. That time, they played and beat AEK Larnarca, while this time they’ll be facing the most successful side in Cypriot football history, APOEL Nicosia, who made it all the way to the quarter finals of the Champions League in 2011/12.
Zubi: "Three different styles"
After attending today’s draw in Monaco, director of sport Andoni Zubizarreta commented that "when you come to this draw, you know you are always going to be drawn against a big team. If you get over-confident, any team in the Champions League will make it hard for you.”
"We’re going to be facing three very different styles of football” he continued. "We’ve played PSG before. It’ll be a great game. They’re a great team both in terms of individuals and as a unit. But this group isn’t just about PSG. Ajax have shown us before how good they can be. APOEL fight hard. Some very big teams have already found out just what a difficult opponent they are in Europe.”
Zubi also commented that PSG and Ajax are both “fast teams that play well on the counter attack and are well structured at the back.” All in all, Group F promises a series of fascinating encounters. “These are games where every team has the right to dream” he concluded. “We have our dreams, and they all have their own.”
The final will be played on June 6, 2015 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
FC Barcelona's Group F fixtures
(all games kick off at 8.45 PM CET)
- Wednesday September 17 FC Barcelona v Apoel Nicosia
- Tuesday September 30 Paris St Germain v FC Barcelona
- Tuesday October 21 FC Barcelona v Ajax Amsterdam
- Wednesday November 5 Ajax Amsterdam v FC Barcelona
- Tuesday November 25 Apoel Nicosia v FC Barcelona
- Wednesday December 10 FC Barcelona v Paris St Germain
Complete Champions League group stage draw
- Group A: Atlético Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmö.
- Group B: Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets.
- Group C: Benfica, Zenit, B Leverkusen, Monaco.
- Group D: Arsenal, B Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht.
- Group E: Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, AS Roma.
- Group F: FC Barcelona, PSG, Ajax, APOEL.
- Group G: Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting Lisbon, Maribor.
- Group H: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao, BATE Borissov.
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