August 29, 2013 / 9:18 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Reaction to Champions League draw

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MONTE CARLO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Groups and reactions following the Champions League group stage draw in Monaco on Thursday.

Group A - Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad

Manchester United club secretary John Alexander: “Shakhtar is an interesting trip for anybody at any time of the year ... It’s a great atmosphere, they have a terrific home record which obviously we’ll be doing our best to overcome. But all in all it’s a very exciting group to be in.”

Shakhtar chief executive Serhiy Palkin: “Manchester United are obviously favourites. The three other teams are quite equal, so it’s very hard to tell who will qualify. All the sides are ambitious and overall it is a well-balanced group.”

Group B - Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, FC Copenhagen

Real Madrid director of international relations Emilio Butragueno: “It’s going to be tough. On paper Juventus, they are going to maybe be the toughest opponent but Galatasaray have a lot of experience and playing at home (against them) will be very difficult. But it’s the Champions League and everything is difficult, so we have to be very focused and prepared because every match is going to be very even.”

Juventus coach Antonio Conte: “It is a difficult group, full of fascinating games. Real are one of the main contenders to win the trophy ... It’s always an extra motivation when you face a team with such history. Galatasaray have great quality and can count on their passionate fans when they play at home.”

Group C - Benfica, Paris St Germain, Olympiakos Piraeus, Anderlecht

PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi: “Approachable draw but the Champions League is a unique competition, we’ll have to be careful.”

PSG right back Gregory Van der Wiel: “Good draw for us I think! Looking forward to the games.”

PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi: “Our objective is to win all the matches, that is our aim, of course. I know it’s not easy but we are the team to win all the matches.”

Group D - Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plzen

Bayern Munich chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “It’s high quality throughout, you are dealing with groups that you have to take seriously and treat with respect from the beginning. We have to be especially careful not to underestimate CSKA Moscow and Manchester City. I saw Plzen the day before yesterday, and they are not a team that you can underestimate either, so I think that we have to show from the very first moment that we are justifiably the champions of the Champions League. This will not be an automatic qualification but our aim is to make the knockout stage.”

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany: “Interesting draw. Big year for us.”

Manchester City director of football Txiki Begiristain: “They (Bayern) won three trophies last season so of course they will be very strong. But already this summer we have played a friendly and now we have the real competition. We have to be careful of Viktoria Plzen also and respectful of all the teams. They (CSKA) are the champions of the Russian league and are doing well. They have a good team with some good players and it will be difficult but we have a lot of confidence this season. We have improved the team, we have a new manager with a lot of experience in the Champions League and we hope we will be stronger in the Champions League.”

Plzen coach Pavel Vrba: “All our opponents belong in the European elite and I am honoured to have a chance to play against teams like these. It will be a very exciting experience as we have never faced English or German clubs before. I will be happy with every point we get - four or five I would consider a success.”

Group E - Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest

Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay: “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.”

Schalke 04 sports director Horst Heldt: “The starting position in this group is clear. Chelsea are the top favourites and the other three teams will battle it out for second spot.”

Group F - Arsenal, Olympique Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli

Marseille sporting director Jose Anigo: “We do some sports to feel emotions and with these three opponents we are certain to have some. We have pleasure as well as difficulty ahead of us. We are going to try to be some itching powder in the group but we can’t say it’s an easy one.”

Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp: “This is a brilliant, balanced group with four teams who have what it takes to survive the group stage. (The) fact is we have to get something to put right against Arsenal and we have something to put right against Marseille. I have not been to Napoli but I am already looking forward to the atmosphere there.”

Borussia Dortmund development officer Lars Ricken: “I don’t think it is a death group for Dortmund, but it’s also not easy. Especially as we went out against Arsenal and Olympique Marseille two years ago, in a not very elegant way, so we have to make up for that. But Napoli are also a good Italian team too, so we won’t be getting anything on a silver plate.”

Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon: “In this tournament, there are incredible clubs. We are in a really complicated group, but our aim is to overcome this group.”

Group G - Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit St Petersburg, Austria Vienna

FC Porto’s representative to UEFA Fernando Gomes: “I think it’s a group with a high level, it will be nice to see (Zenit striker) Hulk, Zenit also know the Dragao stadium (in Porto) well. Playing against Austria in Vienna will also bring back fantastic memories, and Atletico Madrid is a team that we know very well because we have been playing against them a lot in the last few years.”

Austria Vienna coach Nenad Bjelica: “I wanted to face a Spanish team, so I‘m happy we got Atletico.”

Group H - Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax Amsterdam, Celtic

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi: “You don’t get any easy groups in the Champions League. We played Milan and Celtic last season. It’s a beautiful group.”

AC Milan vice-president Umberto Gandini: “Before the draw, I was close to Barcelona president (Sandro) Rosell. He said that it would be Barcelona-Milan again, and so it is. It is a well-known group, with prestigious stadia, historical ones, with teams who have already won the Champions League. It’s an interesting group, a very equal group, there is of course an obvious favourite, which is Barcelona.”

Celtic manager Neil Lennon: “I think it’s the best and the worst draw we could have got. In terms of glamour it doesn’t come any better but it’s the most difficult we could have got. There’s a lot of excitement. In terms of travelling for supporters it’s great. Three great footballing arenas with fantastic pedigree. Locking horns again with Barcelona, there’s so much to savour. It’s going to be extremely difficult.”

Ajax Amsterdam manager Frank de Boer: “I‘m satisfied. We are up against three fantastic teams. We’ve never played against Barcelona. It is going to be great for the fans.”

Ajax Amsterdam marketing director Edwin van der Sar: “It’s nice, they are great teams with a great history between the clubs and it can be very difficult for Ajax and Celtic I think. I‘m not worried, no. I am looking forward to it, and I think the players are too, it’s going to be sell-outs in Amsterdam and great stadiums to play in against all three clubs.” (Reporting by Brian Homewood; Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann and Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ken Ferris and Sonia Oxley)

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