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Barça to feel the heat in Paradise

Published: Thursday 26 August 2004, 17.28CET
Groups E-H reaction: Henrik Larsson looks forward to FC Barcelona taking on Celtic FC. features

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Published: Thursday 26 August 2004, 17.28CET

Barça to feel the heat in Paradise

Groups E-H reaction: Henrik Larsson looks forward to FC Barcelona taking on Celtic FC.
Today's UEFA Champions League group stage draw threw up some intriguing ties, not least the games between AC Milan and FC Barcelona and the holders FC Porto against the club who enticed their coach to London, Chelsea FC. brings you the reaction to the draw from representatives from clubs in Groups E-H.

Group E
Arsenal FC, Panathinaikos FC, PSV Eindhoven, Rosenborg BK

All 32 teams have done their work to qualify and there are no easy games. With four of the eight teams in the second pot being Italian we're not unhappy about staying away from them. We've had mixed results against PSV, although Gilberto scored the fastest goal in the competition against them. The Champions League is the only big trophy we have never been able to win. In order to make our mark and stamp our name we have to win it. Everything else is going exceedingly well, we've set the record in England, the stadium will be ready in 2006, and we really need to win this. Arsenal director Danny Fiszman

All the groups are very tough. Arsenal are one of the best teams in the world and Eindhoven play a very physical game. Despite it being a difficult group, it's very good for us that our first game is at home against Rosenborg. Panathinaikos coach Itzhak Shum

Arsenal are the clear favourites in the group. The most important thing for us will be to play well at home, and hope that we can recapture the away form from 1999 that enabled us to win our group. Rosenborg midfielder Fredrik Winsnes

I'm unable to gather much from this draw because Panathinaikos and Rosenborg are complete blanks for us at the moment. We obviously know more about Arsenal. All three are domestic champions and we're not so we must be careful to be realistic about our possibilities. The Greek league only starts on 9 September and we hope to have plenty of information on Rosenborg soon. PSV coach Guus Hiddink

Group F
FC Barcelona, AC Milan, Celtic FC, FC Shakhtar Donetsk

I know what the atmosphere can be like at 'Paradise', especially on a big European night and that is certainly a factor that will make it difficult for Barcelona. Barça experienced it last year when Celtic knocked them out of the UEFA Cup. The Celtic support is definitely something that gives a boost to the players. Barcelona striker Henrik Larsson

It's not an easy group. We played and lost yesterday against Barcelona, so we know them really well. Celtic have proved they can compete at top level in recent years, while Shakhtar have signed many great players this summer and they are dangerous as well. We have to be really careful even if I believe that the other three sides are more worried about us than we are about them. Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti

There were certainly easier groups, if there's such a thing in the Champions League. As I saw them coming out, I'd hoped that we might avoid this one. I don't think we could have got much tougher. It's a tall order, but the games are worth looking forward to, they're just fantastic evenings. As for Henrik coming back, you'd nearly have guessed something like that would happen. It's remarkable really. Celtic manager Martin O'Neill

You cannot relax in the company of Milan, Barcelona and Celtic. However, we are not scared. We have been making strides in recent seasons towards playing among the European élite. The only difference between our group and the others is that we will be playing three teams who all have a different style, which could be very interesting for the fans. In terms of being competitive, we must enter the field thinking only about victory. Shakhtar vice-president Viktor Prokopenko

Group G
Valencia CF, FC Internazionale, RSC Anderlecht, Werder Bremen

It's a very tough draw but any opponent in this competition will be difficult. Inter are of course a very big team and Werder Bremen have shown that they are the best in Germany - and to be No1 in Germany means that they are very strong. Anderlecht are a very experienced side in this competition and are one of the classic European teams. Valencia manager Claudio Ranieri

When you ask if I am satisfied with this draw I have to say certainly not. We especially wanted to avoid Werder Bremen, who we believe are the most difficult opponents from the fourth pot. And German sides are never beaten until the final whistle, so Bremen will pose us problems. I am pretty happy to have drawn Valencia, however, considering the other teams in the same pot. As for Inter, well Inter are Inter. They are a tough Italian side, so that will be a hard task also. Anderlecht coach Hugo Broos

We have been handed a very interesting group and I am looking forward to the challenge in the Champions League. It won't be easy to reach the next round, but we will do our best and we are definitely not scared. Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf

It will be tough but not impossible. I was expecting nothing easier than this because there are only great teams in the Champions League. However, I remain optimistic as always - Inter have a strong side and can play well and win everywhere. Inter coach Roberto Mancini

Group H
FC Porto, Chelsea FC, Paris Saint-Germain, PFC CSKA Moskva

In this competition there are no easy matches and we will approach the Chelsea game like any other. Of course, we know that it's almost impossible to win this competition two years in a row, and we will face teams that have superior financial resources to us. But that was the case last year and we won. I think the fact that we're holders doesn't put more pressure on us, but it does mean that other teams recognise we are a great club and respect us. Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa

I just spoke to José and he thinks it is a tough draw. The group certainly has an added edge. With José going back to Porto and Roman's link as a sponsor of CSKA you could say that this is the group of stories. We did well last year and you start every season hoping to beat what you have done before. Doing well last year has given us a lot of experience and of course we also have José's experience as a winner last season. Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon

This is not a lucky draw for us. Porto are the holders, Chelsea are the best financed club and Moscow the furthest away. These three opponents pose a challenge equivalent to international level. Playing the best teams in the world is a wonderful experience, but it can be physically and mentally draining.PSG coach Vahid Halihodzic

It sounds trivial but there are no weak teams in the UCL. The first three pots all had very strong teams, and it is impossible to predict the final outcome in any group. We avoided the Spanish and Italians, although we still have to play European champions Porto and the richest English side, Chelsea. Undoubtedly these two will be considered favourites. However, we are not going to get down. We will fight in every game and will try to progress. As last year's European tournaments and UEFA EURO 2004™ proved, there is nothing impossible in football. CSKA midfield player Juris Laizans

Last updated: 26/08/04 21.07CET