Barca drawn with Milan

Barca drawn with Milan

Last seasons runners-up Manchester United grouped with Benfica

UEFA president Michel Platini hands over the UEFA Best Player in Europe award to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi during the Champions League draw ceremony in Monaco on Thursday. AFPLast season's runners-up Manchester United will also face familiar foes in the shape of Benfica, while Barca's domestic rivals Real Madrid are in a group with fellow former champions Olympique Marseille.

Barca and Milan, who have been European champions 11 times between them and met in the 1994 final with the Italians winning 4-0, will renew their rivalry at the Nou Camp on September 13. Both should qualify from a Group H which also includes outsiders BATE Borisov of Belarus and Czech champions Viktoria Plzen.

Manchester United, beaten by Barca in May's final, were first of the 32 teams out of the hat and drawn with Benfica, the team they beat in the final to win their first European Cup in 1968, Basel and Romanian debutants Otelul Galati.

Benfica's name was drawn out by United great Bobby Charlton, who scored against Benfica in the 1968 final.

Manchester City, the world's richest club thanks to owner Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi and playing in the Champions League for the first time, were drawn with four-time European Cup winners Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli. New boy Sergio Aguero, City's record 38 million pounds ($61.81 million) signing, faces a trip to Napoli, the former club of father-in-law Diego Maradona. Real Madrid, European champions a record nine times, face perennial opponents Olympique Lyon along with Ajax Amsterdam and Dinamo Zagreb, back in the competition after a 12-year absence.

Trabzonspor, brought in on Thursday after the Turkish FA withdrew Fenerbahce because of match-fixing allegations, will play in the same group as 2010 champions Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow and Lille. Among the top-seeded teams, Chelsea face Bayer Leverkusen, Valencia and Genk.

The London club will welcome back former midfielder Michael Ballack when Leverkusen visit Stamford Bridge in their opener on September 13, while new Chelsea signing Juan Mata will come face to face with his old club Valencia later that month.

Award for Messi

Lionel Messi won the inaugural UEFA Best Player in Europe award on Thursday, finishing ahead of Barcelona team-mate Xavi and Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo, reports Reuters from Monaco.

The vote, conducted by sports journalists representing each of UEFA's member associations, was organised with the idea of reviving the spirit of the former European Footballer of the Year award which is now known as the Ballon D'Or and organised by soccer's ruling body FIFA. Messi, the overwhelming winner, collected his prize during the Champions League group-stage draw at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.


* Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli.
* Group B: Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor.
* Group C: Manchester United, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati.
* Group D: Real Madrid, Olympique Lyon, Ajax Amsterdam, Dinamo Zagreb.
* Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Racing Genk.
* Group F: Arsenal, Olympique Marseille, Olympiakos Piraeus, Borussia Dortmund.
* Group G: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St Petersburg, APOEL Nicosia.
* Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzen.

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