The draw has been made for this seasons Champions League. Here's what it brought to the four Serie A sides.
The Champions League new boys were dealt a tricky but no means impossible hand for their debut appearance in the competition. Despite drawing the Premier League champions and bookies tournament favourites, Manchester City, the side from Bergamo will still fancy their chances of progressing from the group.
They also face Ukrainian and Croatian champions and Shakhar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb respectively. Although both sides sit top of their leagues already this season, the pair are fortunate draws out of pot two and three. Competition newcomers often find European midweek ties tough to adapt to, but Atalanta’s experience in the Europa League last season could benefit the side.
Giampaolo Gasparini’s side will play their home games at nearby San Siro in Milan, due to their ground, Stadio Atleti Azzurri d’Italia, being renovated and It can be expected that many will make the hour or so journey west.
Atalanta won the praise of many pundits in Europe last season for their attacking football, scoring the most goals in Serie A, outscoring Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus and it can be expected their approach will be no different in Europe.
Serie A champions Juve will really hope this can be their year after a disappointing run last time. The acquisition of de Ligt, who’s Ajax side knocked them out last year, is a sign of intent and Aaron Ramsey and Adrian Rabiot have different skill sets to the more defensive Sami Khedira and Blaise Matudi of last year.
Déjà vu of last year’s round of 16 will bring a smile to Ronaldo’s face. The Portuguese star enjoys playing against Atleti (25 goals in 33 games) and after last year’s hattrick, he will be licking his lips with glee at the prospect of facing them.
Germany’s fourth-best side last year, Bayer, will be tricky, but a tie the Old Lady will be expected to overcome if they are to prove themselves as one of the tournament's favourites. Although the long trip to Moscow can take it out of the players, Juve should face no real trouble from Lokomotiv.
A lot has been written about Napoli’s chances of taking advantage of the change at the top teams in Serie A, but it is Europe that Carlo Ancelotti shines the most. The former AC Milan coach has lifted the Champions League three times in his career, and he will fancy his chances of at least progressing from the group this time out.
They will look to seek revenge on last season’s eliminators, and reigning champions, Liverpool.
Napoli beat Salzburg 4 – 3 on aggregate in the Europa League round of 16 last year before being knocked out by eventual finalist Arsenal, and they should be equally confident of defeating them Austrians again.
Belgium champions Genk are only sixth this time out after their first five games and it is not expected they will pull off much of a surprise in Group E.
Internazionale returned to the Champions League last season after an eight-year absence and they were welcomed with a tough group. Now, the 2010 winners have been an equally hard draw this time around.
Another trip to Nou Camp and a visit to Die Gelbe Wand (The Yellow Wall) await for the Nerazzurri. Inter remain one of a handful of teams that Lionel Messi hasn’t scored against so he will have a chance to set that record straight this time around.
Despite being drawn in the ‘Group of Death’ again there is fresh optimism in the blue side of Milan again and progression cannot be ruled out.
Last years’ experience will help the squad who somehow managed to not qualify from the group after a promising start. A draw at home to bottom of the group PSV saw Tottenham Hotspurs progress in the last time out. Inter can’t afford such slip-ups this time around either.