Cristiano Ronaldo is going back to Manchester United and Paul Pogba will return to Juventus after the storied teams were drawn together at the Champions League group stage on Thursday.
After winning four titles at Real Madrid, and one with United, Ronaldo aims to end Juventus’ 23-year wait for a third European title.
Pogba played for Juventus in its 2015 final loss against Barcelona and won four straight Italian titles before moving back to Manchester — where he was first recruited as a teenager — for a then-world-record fee in 2016.
Valencia and outsider Young Boys, Swiss champion for the first time in 32 years, are also in Group H with United and Juventus.
“We cannot hide the fact that we are among the favourites this year,” Juventus chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said.
Three-time defending champion Real Madrid will start its quest for a record-extending 14th European title in Group G with Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.
Barcelona heads a tough-looking Group B with Tottenham, plus former champions PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan.
Three more former European champions Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax are together with underdog AEK Athens in Group E.
Liverpool, the runner-up last season, was the toughest third-seeded team and landed with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade in Group C.
“I expected a difficult group, we have a difficult group and that’s what the Champions League is all about,” Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp said.
English champion Manchester City got a favourable draw in Group F with Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim.
Atletico Madrid, whose Metropolitano stadium hosts the final on June 1, is grouped with Borussia Dortmund, Monaco and Club Brugge in Group A.
Lokomotiv Moscow, seeded in the top pot as Russia’s champion, will play Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray in Group D.
The 32 teams will share €1.95-billion ($2.95-billion) in prize money from UEFA with the winner likely to top €100-million for the first time.
Games kick off on Sept. 18, and two teams from each group advance to the Round of 16 in February.
There were 13 former champions in a draw that included three teams — Hoffenheim, Red Star and Young Boys — making their group-stage debuts in the 27-season Champions League era. Red Star won the old European Cup in 1991, one year before the format changed.
Teams from the same country could not be drawn together Thursday, and teams from Ukraine and Russia were also kept apart due to ongoing political tensions.
This season kicks off a new three-year cycle of broadcasting and sponsor deals that have raised prize money to record levels. All 32 teams get a basic €15.25-million just for being in the draw.
UEFA will also allocate 30 per cent of the total to reward teams for their storied history in European competitions and results over the past 10 years.
Real Madrid is guaranteed to earn at least €50-million, plus a share of Spanish TV rights money and results bonuses.
UEFA pays €2.7-million per group-stage win and €900,000 for a draw. More fees are earned for reaching each subsequent round.