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Holders Real set for Liverpool test

28 August 2014 18:38

Real Madrid must emerge from a group featuring Liverpool if they are to make history and defend their UEFA Champions League crown.

No side has ever won back-to-back Champions League titles, but Real do boast 10 victories in Europe's premier club competition - a feat labelled in Spain as 'La Decima' - following May's 4-1 extra-time triumph over city rivals Atletico Madrid.

Liverpool, five-times champions of Europe and winners in 2005, represent the toughest challenge for Carlo Ancelotti's men in Group B, which also features Basel and surprise package Ludogorets.

The Bulgarians qualified for the tournament for the first time in dramatic fashion when defender Cosmin Moti saved two shoot-out penalties - having scored the opener himself - after replacing goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov following his extra-time dismissal against Steaua Bucharest.

Real's fierce rivals Barcelona have been handed a stern test, drawn in Group F alongside French champions Paris Saint-Germain, Eredivisie winners Ajax and Cypriot outfit APOEL, who qualified courtesy of a thumping 5-1 aggregate win over AaB in the final play-off round.

Group E looks equally strong, boasting 2013 champions and last year's semi-finalists Bayern Munich.

Pep Guardiola's men were outclassed by Real in the last four in 2013-14, and for the second year in a row they have been grouped with Manchester City, fresh off the back of winning the Premier League title in Manuel Pellegrini's first campaign in charge.

Serie A runners-up Roma are also included in that group, along with Russian champions CSKA Moscow.

Atletico, who came so close to lifting the famous trophy last season, have been drawn in Group A alongside Juventus, Olympiakos and Malmo while Chelsea - the side they overcame to reach the final in Lisbon - have been dealt a seemingly favourable draw against Schalke, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor in Group G.

Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund have been paired together for the second year in succession, with Galatasaray and Anderlecht making up the remainder of Group D.

Portuguese champions and 2014 UEFA Europa League runners-up Benfica are in Group C alongside Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, while Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao and BATE will battle it out in Group H.

Full draw for the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League group phase:

Group A - Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiacos, Malmo

Group B - Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets

Group C - Benfica, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco

Group D - Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht

Group E - Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA, Roma

Group F - Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax, Apoel

Group G - Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting, Maribor

Group H - Porto, Shakhtar, Athletic Bilbao, BATE

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