Monte Carlo, MONACO – Cristiano Ronaldo is going back to Manchester United and Paul Pogba will return to Juventus after the storied teams were drawn together in the Champions League group stage on Thursday.
After winning four titles at Real Madrid, and one with United, Ronaldo aims to end Juventus’ 23-year wait for a third European title.
Pogba played for Juventus in its 2015 final loss against Barcelona and won four straight Italian titles before moving back to Manchester — where he was first recruited as a teenager — for a then-world record fee in 2016.
Valencia and outsider Young Boys, Swiss champion for the first time in 32 years, are also in Group H with United and Juventus.
“We cannot hide the fact that we are among the favorites this year,” Juventus CEO Giuseppe Marotta said.
Three-time defending champion Real Madrid will start its quest for a record-extending 14th European title in Group G with Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.
Barcelona heads a tough-looking Group B with Tottenham, plus former champions PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan.
Three more former European champions Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax are together with underdog AEK Athens in Group E.
Liverpool, the runner-up last season, was the toughest third-seeded team and landed with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, and Red Star Belgrade in Group C.
“I expected a difficult group, we have a difficult group and that’s what the Champions League is all about,” Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said.
English champion Manchester City got a favorable draw in Group F with Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim.
Atletico Madrid, whose Metropolitano Stadium hosts the final on June 1, is grouped with Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Club Brugge in Group A.
Lokomotiv Moscow, seeded in the top pot as Russia’s champion, will play Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray in Group D.