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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

Pep Guardiola's return to Barcelona the highlight of Group C

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here's a preview for Group C. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

1. Barcelona
2. Manchester City
3. Borussia Monchengladbach
4. Celtic


Last season was a disappointment for Barca, as they became the latest team to fail to retain the Champions League trophy. If anyone looked capable of breaking the hoodoo that has tripped up defending champions since AC Milan in 1990, it was them, but they came up against Atletico Madrid, and were mugged by Diego Simeone's team in the quarterfinals. The star names remain, aside from Dani Alves, who has joined Juventus. Headline additions of the summer are defender Samuel Umtiti, signed from Lyon, and Villarreal winger Denis Suarez. As ever, Barcelona will look to Lionel Messi to win their sixth European title.

Manchester City

If Pep Guardiola was brought to Manchester to achieve anything, it was to finally establish the club as a European powerhouse. Manuel Pellegrini reached the semifinals last year, yet the meek manner of defeat to Real Madrid suggested a club still struggling in such rarefied air. Not that Guardiola does not have anything to prove. Losing in the semis three years in a row at Bayern Munich represented a failure to meet expectations, having been European champion at Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. City have splashed out over £180 million on new talent for Guardiola to hone and the pressure to deliver is on.

Pep Guardiola will return to Barcelona to face Luis Enrique's men in the group stage.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Andre Schubert did a mightily impressive job last season to secure a fourth-place domestic finish, after Lucien Favre had shocked the club by resigning in September, in reaction to a poor start to the season. Schubert couldn't do much about their European campaign, the whipping boys of a tough group featuring Manchester City and Real Madrid, but they should be in a more secure position this time.


Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is back in the Champions League group stage, as are Celtic, who have been in exile since the 2013-14 season, having suffered failures in the qualifying rounds.This time around was a close-run thing, with Hapoel Be'er Sheva taking Rodgers' team to the wire, as Celtic escaped Israel with a narrow 5-4 aggregate scoreline. Striker Moussa Dembele was the summer's flagship signing from Fulham, and all-out attack looks the strategy so far for Rodgers.

Game of the group

Barcelona vs. Manchester City -- No questions here. The return of Guardiola to Barcelona's Camp Nou is undoubtedly the headline event of this group. City's Abu Dhabi owners were admirers of Barcelona from that 2008-09 season when Guardiola's team swept all before them, just as they were setting up their project in east Manchester. Now, after a long wait, they have their man, as he returns to the region of his birth.

X factor

Guardiola -- City are on a steep learning curve with Guardiola, with new players coming in and previous mainstays like Joe Hart and Yaya Toure on their way out. At both Bayern and Barcelona, there was a habit of his teams struggling away from home. Might that let in either Monchengladbach or Celtic? Unlikely, but it could make the group stage more difficult than it should be.

John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.


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