Defending champions Bayern Munich were drawn with CSKA Moscow, Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League group stages on Thursday (August 29) in Monte Carlo.

Another German side Borussia Dortmund, defeated by Bayern in the 2012 all-German final, were drawn in a tough Group F together with top seed Arsenal, Olympique Marseille and Napoli.

The draw threw up two heavyweight clashes and plenty of intriguing ones, yet there was a general air of predictability about who would eventually qualify.

The meetings of Real Madrid and Juventus in Group B and AC Milan and Barcelona in Group H may be mouth-watering at first glance but are less dramatic in the overall context of their respective groups.

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay was pleased with the Group E draw in which the Europa League champions will face Schalke 04, Basel and Steaua Bucharest.

"We felt very confident going into it last year but I think we have continued to strengthen our squad this year, we brought two or three new players into the squad, we have a very young squad and we have started the season very well, so we are very happy with how things are going and we look forward to a good season," he said.

AC Milan director Umberto Gandini said Barcelona are sure of a place but added the second spot will be a tough fight between the Italians, Ajax Amsterdam and Celtic.

Big-spending Paris St Germain drew Benfica, Olympiakos, from austerity-hit Greece, and Anderlecht in Group C in what should be another fairly easy stroll with the Portuguese side most likely to accompany them through.

Real Madrid Director of International Relations Emilio Butragueno singled out Juventus as their toughest opponents in a Group B that also includes Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen.

Manchester City have never gone beyond the group stage and are only the third seed in Group D led by Bayern. City Director of Football Txiki Begiristain was hoping new manager Manuel Pellegrini's European credentials, after guiding Villarreal to the Champions League semi-finals in 2006, will benefit the team.

"There is no minimum (achievement), you have a big club with the big players and Arsenal with a manager with a lot of experience, we will see if we will see some goals, but we have to be confident with the squad and also with the manager," he said.

For all the talk about "no easy teams" and "a very even draw", it is hard to imagine the top flight teams not reaching the final 16.

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