European champions Barcelona drew Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan and Inter Milan in Group F of the Champions League, with the latter’s coach José Mourinho booked in for a fourth return to face his former employers.
Mourinho worked as a translator and assistant to the late Sir Bobby Robson during his season as Barça coach in 1996/97, and returned to Camp Nou on three occasions during his time as Chelsea FC manager as the clubs met in three successive UEFA Champions League seasons. His record in six games against his old club reads W2 D2 L2, with one of those defeats – a 2-1 loss in the 2005/06 first knockout round – the only one he suffered in regulation time at Stamford Bridge. The part exchange deal that sent Zlatan Ibrahimović to Camp Nou and Samuel Eto’o to San Siro this summer represents another link between Barça and Inter in a group that will also see the champions of Russia and Ukraine go head to head.
Joan Laporta, Barcelona president
I was convinced we’d get Inter; sometimes destiny throws up such things. It will be wonderful to see Eto’o at Camp Nou once again and I’m sure they feel the same way about Ibrahimović at Inter. We will also see Thiago Motta coming home wearing those famous blue-and-black stripes. I’m not sure if games with such intense competitiveness are suitable for paying homage but I’m sure we’ll receive our former players in the manner they deserve. I hope Barça get through as group winners but we can’t take anything for granted. We realise it won’t be easy in Ukraine and Russia where the cold conditions will play a big part.
Javier Zanetti, Inter captain
It will be good to face Barcelona and I think Ibrahimović will be happy to meet us again. I will also face Lionel Messi, with whom I have a great relationship from the Argentinian national team. It will be tough but we are good enough to go through. It’s never easy to play in Russia or Ukraine with the weather conditions and because they are already in mid-season while we have just started. I really like the new-look Champions League with more countries involved; it’s more interesting and Michel Platini deserves credit.
Kurban Berdyev, Rubin coach
I am satisfied with the draw. We have got two real powerhouses in Barcelona and Inter, as well as rapidly improving Dynamo Kiev side. I think our supporters will get a lot from our matches against such illustrious opponents. We will focus on our preparations as we have a chance to get to the last 16 and will do our utmost to achieve it.
Valeriy Gazzaev, Dynamo Kiev coach
I have taken the results of the draw very calmly. It is a very interesting group without an easy match for any team.
Champions League Tickets
Sept 16: Inter Milan – FC Barcelona – Buy Inter Milan – FC Barcelona Tickets
24 November: FC Barcelona – Inter Milan – Buy FC Barcelona – Inter Milan Tickets