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. The curious thing is that 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.
The final will be played on June 6, 2015 at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
The complete Champions League group stage draw is as follows:
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.