Liverpool, Man City avoid Europe ‘guns’ …in UEFA C/L draw as van Dyke wins UEFA top award

Chelsea will face Ajax and last season’s finalists Tottenham must go up against Bayern Munich in the Champions’ League (C/L) group stages.

Reigning champions Liverpool were pitted against Napoli for the second season in a row.

On paper, though, Premier League winners Manchester City have the easiest route into the knockout stages with a group including Shakthar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta.

The draw, concluded yesterday, has also thrown up plenty of mouth-watering ties with Real Madrid in Group A alongside Paris Saint-Germain and Group F containing Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan.

Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong and Lionel Messi picked up the four positional awards for their performances in the competition.

But it was Manchester United legend Eric Cantona who stole the show with his farmer-like appearance and Shakespeare-inspired speech.

He bizarrely said: “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.

“Soon the science will be able to slow down the ageing of the cells, to the state. Soon we will become eternal.

“Only accidents, crimes, wars, will still kill us. Unfortunately, crimes, wars, will multiply. I love football. Thank you.”

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk won the Men’s Player of the Year award after helping his side win the Champions League.

He said: ‘First of all, I need to thank all my team-mates. Without all of them, I wouldn’t have achieved what I have done over the past year.

‘It has been a long road but its part of my journey and who I am. I am not a player who is 18 years old and had that path straight away. I had to work hard and I am very proud of that. It’s all credit to everyone who has helped me along the way.

‘I looked up as a young player to Ronaldinho because he had so much joy when playing; it was such a great feeling to watch him play.

‘But I think all the people who have helped me along the way, it has been a pleasure.’

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray.

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade.

Group C: Manchester City, Shaktar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta.

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow.

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk.

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague.

Group G: Zenit St. Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, Leipzig.

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille.

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