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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Barcelona up against 'powerful group' in Champions League - Ernesto Valverde

Barcelona are the clear favourites in Group B of the Champions League, but the FC crew think Tottenham could struggle to finish ahead of Inter Milan.
ESPN FC's Paul Mariner sifts through the Champions League draw and determines who has the best path to the knockout stage and who may struggle.

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde says his side are up against a "powerful group" after drawing Tottenham, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven in Thursday's Champions League draw in Monaco.

Barca, five-time winners of Europe's top club competition, are looking for their first triumph since 2015 after crashing out at the quarterfinal stage last season. And Valverde highlighted the different challenges his side will face in order to qualify for the knockout stage this term. 

"It's a powerful group, they always are at this stage of the competition," Valverde said. "It's a nice group, too, with teams with different styles of play and four really competitive clubs.

"Inter are back in the Champions League and they'll be desperate to do well. PSV have [former Barcelona midfielder Mark] van Bommel in charge, someone we know really well.

"And [Mauricio] Pochettino's Tottenham have very good players. It's a group which is going to be really well disputed.

Spurs star striker Harry Kane has welcomed the opportunity to take on more of Europe's biggest clubs, meanwhile.

Mauricio Pochettino's side showed their mettle last season when they topped a group including the reigning European champions Real Madrid and German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund, so Kane is looking forward to the challenge ahead.

"It's a brilliant draw, games at famous stadiums like the Nou Camp, the San Siro," he said. "It's a really good draw, one to relish.

"We showed people last season that we can compete at this level, particularly when you look at the games against Real Madrid, who went on to win the tournament.

"Barca will be a different test but to play in the Nou Camp against some of the best players in the world, it's fantastic to play in these types of games.

"You want to play in big games against the best players, and this draw gives us a chance as a club to once again test ourselves against the best.

"PSV will be tough, a huge team in Holland, and Inter as well, a great history. It's a brilliant draw."

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti echoed Valverde's sentiments regarding Group B's strength.

His side squeaked into the competition in the final round of the Serie A season last term and the Argentine admitted he was expecting an easier road.

"We are in a difficult group; we were not expecting it to be so difficult, but we will have all the time we need to prepare every game in the best possible way," Zanetti said.

"Barcelona are not all about Messi: They have plenty of players who can change a game all in a sudden just with a piece of skill. Facing teams like this, however, can only help us to improve and raise our standards."

Dele Alli added: "It's going to be another tough Champions League but we're looking forward to it. We're looking forward to the challenge, coming up against some of the best teams in the world.

"We're excited. We're confident as well, especially after last year. We had a very difficult group again and we came out on top, so we're looking forward to it."

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