European reunion for Jose-Ron

Jose Mourinho and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo have had a fraught relationship since the Manchester United boss coached his fellow Portuguese at Real Madrid.
Jose Mourinho and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo have had a fraught relationship since the Manchester United boss coached his fellow Portuguese at Real Madrid.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Champions League draw pits Real's ex-boss and player in United v Juventus meetings

MONACO • Cristiano Ronaldo may be the last person Jose Mourinho wanted to come up against in the Champions League after Manchester United's rocky start to the term, but his former player is lying in wait with his new club Juventus after the draw was made on Thursday.

Mourinho and Ronaldo have had a fraught relationship since he coached his Portugal compatriot at Real Madrid and the forward has an opportunity to put one over the United manager and his former club when they meet in Group H.

The group is one of the more difficult ones in the draw, with tricky Spanish outfit Valencia and the Swiss champions Young Boys.

"It's a great draw for Valencia. Exciting to play United and Juventus," said Valencia president Anil Murthy. "We have formed a strong team for the season to compete and fight against the best in Europe."

Former United No. 1 Peter Schmeichel said that Ronaldo's signing for Juve for €100 million (S$159 million) had taken the Italian champions, twice beaten finalists in the past four years, to another level.

"Juventus are probably the hardest team to play against in Europe now because of Ronaldo," the Dane told BT Sport. "Everyone sees them as rebuilding Italian football."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri also expressed his satisfaction, despite the Bianconeri not having the easiest of European ties.

  • CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE DRAW

  • GROUP A

    Atletico Madrid (Esp) Borussia Dortmund (Ger) AS Monaco (Fra) Club Brugge (Bel)

  • GROUP B

    Barcelona (Esp) Tottenham (Eng) PSV Eindhoven (Ned) Inter Milan (Ita)

  • GROUP C

    Paris Saint-Germain (Fra) Napoli (Ita) Liverpool (Eng) Red Star Belgrade (Srb)

  • GROUP D

    Lokomotiv Moscow (Rus) Porto (Por) Schalke 04 (Ger) Galatasaray (Tur)

  • GROUP E

    Bayern Munich (Ger) Benfica (Por) Ajax Amsterdam (Ned) AEK Athens (Gre)

  • GROUP F

    Manchester City (Eng) Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) Lyon (Fra) Hoffenheim (Ger)

  • GROUP G

    Real Madrid (Esp) AS Roma (Ita) CSKA Moscow (Rus) Viktoria Plzen (Cze)

  • GROUP H

    Juventus (Ita) Manchester United (Eng) Valencia (Esp) Young Boys (Sui)

  • MATCH DAYS

    Sept 18-19 Oct 2-3 & 23-24 Nov 6-7 & 27-28 Dec 11-12

"It's a demanding group with teams of great value, tradition and historic stadiums," the Italian said.

It will also not be plain sailing for Tottenham Hotspur, who have been paired with Barcelona in Group B, and last season's finalists Liverpool - in Group C with French champions Paris Saint-Germain.

Group C is closest to a "Group of Death", with Napoli and Red Star Belgrade also in the mix.

The draw also threw up a meeting between two Germans, Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp, and his successor at Borussia Dortmund and current PSG boss Thomas Tuchel.

"PSG are a very interesting project for sure over in France with Tuchel," said Klopp. "Facing Neymar will be, for our Brazilian guys, like meeting a friend again."

There will also be a reunion between Carlo Ancelotti, who became Napoli coach in the close season, and PSG, whom he led to the French Ligue 1 title in 2013.

Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven round up Group B, and Spurs are relishing the challenge.

"You want to test yourselves against the best players in the world... That's definitely the case with Barca," Spurs' Eric Dier said.

English champions Manchester City, by contrast, have straightforward opposition in Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine), Hoffenheim (Germany) and Lyon (France).

If City are looking for omens, then being drawn in Group F is as good as it gets, with six out of the 15 Champions League winners since the 2003-04 season having come from that group, and Txiki Begiristain, City's director of football, conceded there had been a slice of luck. "Spurs and Liverpool have had a much more difficult draw," he said.

Holders Real, aiming for a fourth straight European crown, also had a kind draw and headline a Group G featuring Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.

Real were boosted beforehand after World Cup Golden Ball winner Luka Modric was named Uefa Player of the Year, beating former Real team-mate Ronaldo and Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to the prize.

In doing so, the Croat became the first footballer since Brazil great Ronaldo in 1998 to lift both accolades.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 01, 2018, with the headline 'European reunion for Jose-Ron'. Print Edition | Subscribe