Champions League draw: Madrid ‘ready’ for tough group – Ronaldo
Champions League draw: Cristiano Ronaldo says Real Madrid are "ready" to face Manchester City, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund
Cristiano Ronaldo insists Real Madrid will be ready to take on Premier League heavyweights Manchester City after the Champions League group stage draw was made on Thursday.
The La Liga champions will welcome Roberto Mancini’s side to the Bernabeu in a mouth-watering opening Group D fixture, before facing Eredivisie winners Ajax and Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, who pipped Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title last season.
“In my opinion, it’s the most difficult group, the most competitive group,” Ronaldo said. “But we are champions of Spain. We are ready.”
Roberto Di Matteo’s side will begin the defence of their Champions League crown with a tie against Serie A holders Juventus at Stamford Bridge, with their other opponents in Group E Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk and Danish side Nordsjaelland.
Manchester United are set to kick off their bid to win Europe’s premier club competition for the fourth time with a home tie against Galatasaray, before facing Romanian side Cluj, with Braga completing Group H.
Olivier Giroud will make an immediate return to Montpellier in Arsenal’s opening Champions League fixture of the season, with Arsene Wenger’s men also drawn alongside Olympiacos and Schalke in Group B.
Meanwhile, Neil Lennon admitted his delight to see Celtic pitted against three illustrious clubs in Group H, with Benfica making the trip to Parkhead on 19 September, followed by daunting trips to Spartak Moscow and four-time winners Barcelona.
“We’re familar with the three teams,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve had history with all three of those teams.
“If I remember correctly, certainly under [former manager] Gordon [Strachan] we played Barcelona and Benfica and we also knocked out Moscow in the play-offs, so it’s a tough, tough group, but I think all the teams play good football so it should be quite attractive to watch.”
British clubs’ Champions League group stage fixtures
Manchester City: Sept 18 Real Madrid (a); Oct 3 Dortmund (h); Oct 24 Ajax (a); Nov 6 Ajax (h); Nov 21 Real Madrid (h); Dec 4 Dortmund (a).
Chelsea: Sept 19 Juventus (h); Oct 2 Nordsjaelland (a); Oct 23 Shakhtar (a); Nov 7 Shakhtar (h); Nov 20 Juve (a); Dec 5 Nordsjaelland (h).
Manchester United: Sept 19 Galatasaray (h); Oct 2 Cluj (a); Oct 23 Braga (h); Nov 7 Braga (a); Nov 20 Galatasaray (a); Dec 5 Cluj (h).
Arsenal: Sept 18 Montpellier (a); Oct 3 Olympiakos (h); Oct 24 Schalke (h); Nov 6 Schalke (a); Nov 21 Montepllier (h); Dec 4 Olympiakos (a).
Celtic: Sept 19 Benfica (h); Oct 2 Spartak Moscow (a); Oct 23 Barcelona (a); Nov 7 Barcelona (h); Nov 20 Benfica (a); Dec 5 Spartak Moscow (h).