x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Real Madrid test awaits Manchester City in Champions League

Premier League champions drawn in group with Spanish giants, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.

City faced Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli last season and failed to qualifty. Paul Ellis / AFP
City faced Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli last season and failed to qualifty. Paul Ellis / AFP

Manchester City will face Real Madrid for the first time in a competitive match after being drawn against Jose Mourinho's side in the Champions League group stage.

City have the toughest group of all in Group D with the Spanish champions Real, the Dutch league winners Ajax and the German double winners Borussia Dortmund all dangerous opponents.

Chelsea, the defending European champions, also have a difficult-looking task in Group E along with Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Nordsjaelland.

Cristiano Ronaldo, the Real midfielder who was at the draw, said Group D was the toughest. "It is the most difficult group in my opinion and I think that's the same for most people," he said. "But we are champions of Spain and we are ready to compete with everybody."

While Dortmund are clear outsiders to win Group D, their manager Jurgen Klopp is relishing the challenge of facing three top teams.

"That is a spectacular group, three of the four teams have won the Champions League at least once," he said.

"There is lots of tradition and imagination in this group.

"Real are one of the best teams in the world, Manchester City haven't won the English title for nothing and have a huge amount of potential in their squad, while Ajax are traditionally very strong. As outsiders, we can achieve a lot."

Real's director of football Emilio Butragueno says Mourinho's players will be excited about the prospect of playing City.

"Playing in England is a great pleasure because the fans are extremely passionate," Butragueno told Sky Sports News.

"It's a unique experience so I'm sure they will be excited about it."

Meanwhile, Sir Alex Ferguson has told his Manchester United players they cannot afford to make the "stupid errors" they committed in Europe last season after they were handed another relatively easy-looking group, including Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj.

The United manager is conscious that his side were predicted to make round two last year after being given a favourable draw against Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati

"We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and we will always remember the 'Welcome to Hell' banners," Ferguson told ManUtd.com.

"So it's always a difficult type of match.

"We have drawn Portuguese clubs a number of times over the past few years - the likes of Benfica, Sporting [Lisbon] and Porto - so we have the experience of playing in Portugal on many occasions.

"Braga are one of the improving teams in that country.

"Obviously, we've never played Cluj before but, after the experience of last year, we don't want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through."

Group A

Porto (Portugal)

Dinamo Kiev (Ukraine)

Paris St-Germain (France)

Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia)

Group B

Arsenal (England)

Schalke (Germany)

Olympiakos (Greece)

Montpellier (France)

Group C

AC Milan (Italy)

Zenit St Petersburg (Russia)

Anderlecht (Belgium)

Malaga (Spain)

Group D

Real Madrid (Spain)

Manchester City (England)

Ajax (Holland)

Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Group E

Chelsea (England)

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)

Juventus (Italy)

Nordsjaelland (Denmark)

Group F

Bayern Munich (Germany)

Valencia (Spain)

Lille (France)

BATE Borisov (Belarus)

Group G

Barcelona (Spain)

Benfica (Portugal)

Spartak Moscow (Russia)

Celtic (Scotland)

Group H

Manchester United (England)

Braga (Portugal)

Galatasaray (Turkey)

CFR Cluj (Romania)