By Brian Homewood
MONACO – Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho is to meet one of his former clubs in the Champions League group stages while Paris St Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will take on Malmo, the club where the Swede began his career.
Premier League winners Chelsea were drawn in Group G on Thursday with Porto, who won the competition with the ‘Special One’ at the helm in 2004, Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel Aviv.
PSG will face Sweden’s Malmo, who have reached this stage for the second year in a row, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group A.
“It will be great to have Zlatan here,” Malmo coach Age Hareide told Reuters.
“It will be a party for the people. But we would have preferred a slightly weaker third team,” he said in reference to Shakhtar.
Arsenal, taking part in the group stages for the 18th season in a row, face five-times champions Bayern Munich, who knocked the Londoners out in the round of 16 in 2012-13 and 2013-14, in Group F along with Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos Piraeus.
Holders Barcelona take on Bayer Leverkusen, BATE Borisov and AS Roma in Group E.
Group D appears by far the toughest with Juventus, Manchester City, Sevilla and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Sevilla qualified as Europa League winners following a change in the rules.
Astana, the first team from Kazakhstan to reach this stage of the competition, were drawn in Group C alongside Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray.
Benfica face a 7,000-km journey to Kazakhstan across five time zones, the longest of any team.
The two games between big-spending PSG and 10-times champions Real appear to be the outstanding matches of the group stages.
The matches will be the first between the clubs since they met in the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in March 1994.
Leverkusen are hardly likely to relish the thought of facing Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after the Argentine great scored five goals against them in a 7-1 win in 2012.
Manchester United, PSV Eindhoven, VfL Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow were drawn in Group B while Zenit St Petersburg will meet Valencia, Olympique Lyonnais and Ghent in Group H.
The games will be played on Sept. 15/16, Sept. 29/30, Oct. 20/21, Nov. 3/4, Nov. 24/25 and Dec. 8/9.(Reuters)