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Aug 30, 2012

Real Madrid drawn in 'group of death'

Real Madrid director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno admitted luck had not been kind to his side after Madrid were drawn with Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in Thursday afternoon's Champions League group stages draw.

Group D was quickly dubbed this season's group of death as it holds the reigning champions in England, Spain, Germany and Holland, and the former Real striker said his team had little margin for error if they wanted to make the last 16.

"We have not had much luck, although I guess our opponents will be thinking the same," Butragueno said. "City are a very strong team who have invested a lot of money in recent years and they will be very tough. Ajax and Dortmund are also good sides. There will be very close games, with a lot of pressure and we will have to prepare well."

Celtic, Benfica and Spartak Moscow, now coached by ex-Valencia boss Unai Emery, will provide the opposition in Group G in Tito Vilanova's first European campaign as Barca head coach.

The Catalan club's sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta was much happier than his Madrid counterpart when he spoke with Spanish reporters afterwards.

"We are always satisfied with our draws," said Zubizarreta. "It looks to me like a 'real footballing' group, full of passionate stadiums and teams with different styles of play who will be aiming to test us. It is an interesting group to start with."

Malaga were drawn in Group C along with Milan, Zenit St. Petersburg and Anderlecht for the Andalucian club's first ever Champions League campaign.

Francisco Martin Aguilar, Malaga's representative in Monaco, said he was happy with a glamour tie against Milan and also the possibility to progress.

"We are happy to be here, and the draw could have been worse," said Martin Aguilar. "Sincerely, we can progress. There is one strong club in Milan, and the others are on our level. It will be very beautiful to play at the San Siro and to see a full stadium at Malaga when they visit us. We intend to go as far as possible."

Valencia were placed in Group F along with Bayern Munich, Lille and BATE Borisov. Los Che president Manuel Llorente said his side would be tested but were capable of coming through.

"In the Champions League the games are always testing," Llorente said. "At first glance, it is an interesting group for us. You always get drawn against strong teams. Lille were French champions two years ago, and our player (Adil) Rami, plays for them. And Bayern, of course."

The first round of group games take place September 18 and 19, with this year's final being held May 25 at Wembley.

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