Champions League: Dortmund face emotional Monaco return, Bayern get Ajax | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 30.08.2018
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Champions League: Dortmund face emotional Monaco return, Bayern get Ajax

Dortmund face an emotional Champions League rematch with Monaco, the opponents when their team bus was attacked last year. Bayern will play Benfica and Ajax, while Schalke and Hoffenheim will fancy their chances.

Second seeds Dortmund were paired with Atletico Madrid, Club Brugge and the principality side, who they were playing in a knockout tie in April 2017 when their bus was attacked as it left the team hotel.

The bomb attack, which injured defender Marc Barta, happened as the bus left the hotel for the first leg of the knockout tie between the two sides. The match was postponed until the following day and Dortmund went on to lose the tie. Their coach at the time, Thomas Tuchel, now in charge of Paris Saint-Germain, and several players have since spoken of the traumatic after effects of that day.

"It's a hard draw with strong opponents, most notably Atletico, who provide a very experienced and well-organized team. There's also Monaco who eliminated Manchester City [in 2016-17]and only went out in the semifinals," said BVB boss Lucien Favre.

The club's CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke was not best pleased with the result of Thursday's draw in Monaco.  “I am not very happy. This is a difficult group. Atletico are a top team, and those games will be massive.”

Bayern Munich's top seeding insulated them from most of the big names and, despite the presence of four time winners Ajax and Portuguese runners up Benfica, should have little trouble escaping group E. The last side drawn alongside the German champions was AEK Athens.

Niko Kovac's coaching debut in the competition will come on September 19, with the fixture list still to be decided. The final will be at Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano stadium on June 1.

Long journeys for Schalke, Nagelsmann to face Pep

Domenico Tedesco's Schalke are rewarded for their second place finish in the Bundesliga with about as kind a group as they could have hoped for. The Royal Blues were placed with top seeds Lokomotiv Moscow — who count former Schalke skipper Benedikt Höwedes among their ranks — 2004 winners Porto and Turkish champions Galatasray.

While trips to Moscow and particularly Istanbul are daunting, as third seeds, Schalke may have expected much worse on their return to Europe's top table.

Germany's final representative club, Hoffenheim, have plenty of work to do to escape group F in their maiden Champions League campaign — they were knocked out in the qualifiers last season.

Their rising star of a coach Julian Nagelsmann will get to pit his wits against Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City coach widely recognized as one of the best bosses in the world. With the English champions on a different financial plane, Hoffenheim's success is likely to be dictated by their results against Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk and French outfit Lyon.

As well as four German teams in the draw, all eyes will be on the clash of the former Dortmund bosses in group C, with Tuchel's PSG drawn with Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool.

Modric and Real teammates clean up

Luka Modric receives the award for Champions League midfielder of the season(Getty Images/AFP/V. Vache)

Luka Modric receives the award for Champions League midfielder of the season

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric was named UEFA best men's player in Europe for 2017-18 ahead of Liverpool's Mo Salah.

The Croatian beat last year's winner, Ronaldo, who moved to Juventus in July, after helping his team win the Champions League final in Kiev against Salah's Liverpool.

It is the first time Modric, 32 and a runner-up in this summer's World Cup, has won the award.

His Madrid team-mates Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos won the best goalkeeper and defender awards respectively, while the Croatian also picked up the midfielder trophy.

Ronaldo, now at Juventus, won the forward of the season award after finishing as the Champions League top scorer with 15 goals in a Real Madrid clean sweep.

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