Real Madrid defend the trophy in the 2016-17 Champions League after increasing their record number of European titles to 11 with a second victory in three years over local rivals Atletico.
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Los Blancos are now four ahead of AC Milan on the list of most prolific European champions having triumphed on penalties in the San Siro following a 1-1 draw, Cristiano Ronaldo netting the decisive spot-kick to inflict Champions League Final heartbreak on Atletico once more.
That defeat was all the more galling for Diego Simeone’s side because they had knocked out favourites Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the two previous rounds, and it’s those two giants who head the betting again for Europe’s most prestigious club prize just ahead of Real Madrid.
Heading the English contingent, at least as far as the bookmakers are concerned, are Manchester City, who reached the semi-finals for the first time in 2015-16, losing 1-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid, and now have two-time winning coach Pep Guardiola leading them into battle.
Pep Guardiola kisses the UEFA Champions League trophy (Getty Images)
Guardiola’s Champions League victories were, of course, with Barcelona and he will make an emotive return to Camp Nou during the group stage because City have been drawn to play his former club along with Borussia Monchengladbach, for the second season running, and Celtic.
Shock English champions Leicester City found themselves in exalted company in Pot 1 when the draw was made and they will be happy with having to play Porto, Bruges and Copenhagen.
It was also a pleasing draw for Tottenham Hotspur, favourites to finish top of their group which also contains CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, but their North London rivals Arsenal face a tough task to win their pool against Paris Saint-Germain, the other opponents being Basel and Ludogorets Razgrad.
Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund will be expected to qualify at the expense of Sporting Lisbon and Legia Warsaw, while the holders’ neighbours Atletico face a rematch of last season’s semi-final against Bayern Munich as well as facing PSV Eindhoven and group-stage newcomers Rostov.
2016-17 UEFA Champions League group-stage draw:
2016-17 UEFA Champions League fixture schedule
September 13-14 – Group stage match day 1
September 27-28 – Group stage match day 2
October 18-19 – Group stage match day 3
November 1-2 – Group stage match day 4
November 22-23 – Group stage match day 5
December 6-7 – Group stage match day 6
December 12 – Draw for round of 16
February 14-15 – Round of 16 first leg
February 21-22 – Round of 16 first leg
March 7-8 – Round of 16 second leg
March 14-15 – Round of 16 second leg
March 17 – Draw for quarter-finals
April 11-12 – Quarter-finals first leg
April 18-19 – Quarter-finals second leg
April 21 – Draw for semi-finals
May 2-3 – Semi-finals first leg
May 9-10 – Semi-finals second leg
June 3 – Final at Millennium Stadium, Cardiff