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Barcelona face challenge of Paris, Ajax, APOEL

Four-time winners FC Barcelona take on Paris Saint-Germain, AFC Ajax and APOEL FC in Group F – a section full of reunions for Paris striker Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Pedro Rodríguez celebrates after scoring against PSG in the 2012/13 quarter-finals
Pedro Rodríguez celebrates after scoring against PSG in the 2012/13 quarter-finals ©Getty Images

Group F: FC Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, AFC Ajax, APOEL FC

• Zlatan Ibrahimović has represented Ajax (2001–04), Barcelona (2009/10) and now Paris (2012–).

• Barcelona beat Paris in the 2012/13 quarter-finals, progressing on away goals courtesy of a 2-2 first-leg draw in Paris. The Camp Nou return ended 1-1.

• The Spanish side also overcame Paris in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, Ronaldo scoring the only goal in Rotterdam.

• Barcelona thrashed Ajax 4-0 on matchday one last season – the clubs' first competitive meeting. The Dutch team then prevailed 2-1 in Amsterdam, helping them finish third in the pool.

• APOEL – in the group stage for the third time, and quarter-finalists in 2011/12 – lost home (0-1) and away (0-2) to Paris in the 1993/94 Cup Winners' Cup first round, their sole previous experience of any of their three group opponents.

Andoni Zubizarreta, Barcelona technical director

We won't take any game lightly, the group does not end with PSG. They are the two most spectacular games but our worry is not about whether or not we are group favourites, we are more concerned about playing at the level people expect from Barcelona and being loyal to our style. It seems some teams are obliged to get to the semi-finals but we all have the right to dream. We will take the game against Ajax as seriously as we take the game against PSG.

Laurent Blanc, Paris coach
Barcelona are a club that need no introduction. Ajax are a good European club, with very good youngsters, dominating their league in recent years. APOEL are an unknown quantity but we know that this is a team accustomed to European competition. All the groups are difficult and ours too, but we can cope with it.

Frank de Boer, Ajax coach
When our goal is to reach the next stage, it is tough when you draw FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain. With these teams it will be very difficult to be first or second in the group. PSG have ambitions to win the Champions League within four or five years and for me, they are now in the third year of that. They just have a very strong team. Barcelona have a new coach and from what I have seen they look refreshed. Last year we showed we could take points off these top teams and we still have almost the same players again.

Constantinos Charalambides, APOEL captain
This is a very tough draw for us. We face three sides with rich traditions in world football and huge footballing schools. But we still see this draw as a great moment for us. It will be a challenging experience for us – the players, the coaching staff, the board and of course our fans.

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