Champions League: Barcelona to face Manchester City in Guardiola reunion

Story highlights

Barcelona drawn with Manchester City

Champion Real Madrid with Dortmund

Juventus in same group as Arsenal

Final in Cardiff on June 3, 2017

CNN  — 

Pep Guardiola is heading back to Barcelona after his Manchester City side was paired with the Spanish giant for the group stage of the Champions League in Thursday’s draw.

Guardiola won 14 major trophies during his tenure at Camp Nou, before leaving in 2012.

The 45-year-old, who then led Bayern Munich to three successive Champions League semifinals, arrived in England at the end of last season after replacing Manuel Pellegrini as City coach.

Friends reunited

While it has been four years since Guardiola left Barcelona, his legacy still remains.

Under Guardiola, Barcelona rewrote the football manual – his philosophy of “tiki-taka” brought a whole new dimension to the game and changed the way it was played across the world.

His two European triumphs and three domestic league titles came at a time when the team appeared unbeatable.

But both have moved on – Guardiola at City after winning three straight league titles with Bayern, and Barcelona at its imperious best under current coach Luis Enrique.

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This will not be the first time Guardiola has returned to Barcelona – that came with Bayern Munich in 2015. On that occasion, Barcelona won through to the final after a 5-3 aggregate victory.

City reached the semifinals last season before going down to eventual champion Real Madrid – and Guardiola has his work cut out if he is to bring the trophy back to England anytime soon.

La Liga to dominate?

There may be 32 teams fighting it out to become Europe’s top team but it’s difficult to look past the usual suspects.

Spain has provided the winners for the past three seasons – with two all-Spanish finals in that time.

Last year it was Real Madrid which overcame Atletico on penalties in Milan to win an unprecedented 11th title.

So how about a repeat this time around? Well that could be a problem for Real – but perhaps not in the group stages.

Real will face Borussia Dortmund, Sporting and Legia Warsaw – a trio of clubs which most would expect Madrid to overcome and finish in the top two of Group F.

No team has ever successfully defended the title since the competition was revamped in 1992 – and there’s a few who are determined to make sure Real doesn’t make it.

Luis Suarez has enjoyed a stellar year with Barcelona.

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First up in terms of rivals is Barcelona – the Spanish champion and one of the outstanding favorites.

In Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Brazil star Neymar, Barca has a front three to give defenders nightmares.

The trio was on fire last season, leading Barca to the league and cup double as well as the semifinals of the Champions League.

It should have few problems qualifying from a group which includes City, Germany’s Borussia Monchengladbach and Scottish champion Celtic.

And don’t forget Atletico Madrid – a finalist twice in the past three years. Diego Simeone’s side has suffered heartbreak on both occasions but will be a force to be reckoned with once again.

The Spanish side has been paired with Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich, Dutch champion PSV Eindhoven and Russia’s FC Rostov in Group D.

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