Arsenal's Debuchy is sent off by referee Proenca during their Champions League playoff soccer match against Besiktas at the Emirates stadium in London

Arsenal's Debuchy is sent off by referee Proenca during their Champions League playoff soccer match against Besiktas at the Emirates stadium in London (DYLAN MARTINEZ,, REUTERS / August 27, 2014)


MONACO (Reuters) - Champions League holders Real Madrid will face former European champions Liverpool, FC Basel and debutants Ludogorets of Bulgaria following the group stage draw on Thursday.

The eagerly-awaited event, held at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo, had a distinct air of deja vu about it.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City were drawn in the same group for the second successive season, as were Chelsea and Schalke 04, and Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona and Paris St Germain, both clubs with strong links to Qatar, will also face each other in a mouth-watering clash.

Real won the title for a record-extending 10th time when they beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 after extra time in Lisbon in May and have the chance to avenge a 5-0 aggregate defeat by five-time champions Liverpool in the last 16 in 2009 when they lost 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu and 4-0 at Anfield.

Further back in time Liverpool beat Real 1-0 in the 1981 European Cup final in Paris.

Real will open the defence of their crown when they host Basel in a Group B match on Sept. 16 and will visit the minnows of Ludogorets on Oct. 1. They face Liverpool at Anfield on Oct. 22 with the return leg in Madrid on Nov.4.

"We know it's going to be very tough," said Cristiano Ronaldo of the Liverpool tie. "In general the group is nice, it's good for Real Madrid.

"We are going to try and do the same again this season. We're going to try to win the Champions League. It will be difficult but Real Madrid are always thinking big, thinking huge."


AMAZING GROUP

Bayern and Manchester City were joined by CSKA Moscow for the second straight season too with AS Roma completing the quartet in Group E.

Txiki Begiristain, City's director of football told reporters: "Last season Bayern were first, we were second and we also played CSKA, and the fourth team now is very tough, a very strong team in AS Roma.

"All the clubs try to play good football, so it will be an amazing group."

Last season City midfielder Yaya Toure was racially abused at CSKA leading European football's governing body UEFA to order a partial closure of their stadium.

Last season's runners-up Atletico were grouped with former champions Juventus, Olympiakos Piraeus and Malmo of Sweden in Group A.

Barca and PSG will also face former European champions Ajax Amsterdam and APOEL Nicosia in Group F.


SUCCESSIVE SEASONS

Real Madrid, who waited 12 years to secure their 10th title, are bidding to become the first club in the Champions League era to win the trophy in successive seasons, a feat achieved fairly regularly under the old European Cup format.

The last team to win the title in successive seasons were AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, but Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored 17 goals in the competition for Real last season, sees no reason why they cannot retain their crown.