Barcelona will be the favourites to win the tournament despite being drawn against AC Milan in group stages [Reuters]

Holders Barcelona have been drawn with seven-times European Cup winners AC Milan plus outsiders BATE Borisov of Belarus and Viktoria Plzen of Czech Republic in the group stage of the Champions League.

Manchester United, beaten in last season's final at Wembley Stadium, were drawn on Thursday with Benfica, the team they beat in the 1968 final at Wembley, Basel and Romanians Otelul Galati who are making their debut in the competition.

Manchester City, the world's richest club thanks to owner Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi and playing in the Champions League for the first time, were drawn with four-times European Cup winners Bayern Munich, Villarreal and Napoli.

New boy Sergio Aguero, City's record $61.81m signing, faces a trip to Napoli, the former club of father-in-law Diego Maradona.

Real Madrid, European champions a record nine times, face perennial opponents Olympique Lyon along with Ajax Amsterdam and Dinamo Zagreb, back in the competition after a 12-year absence.

Trabzonspor, brought in on Thursday after the Turkish FA withdrew Fenerbahce because of match-fixing allegations, will play in the same group as 2010 champions Inter Milan, CSKA Moscow and Lille.

Arsenal's tricky start to the season with star players Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leaving the Emirates stadium for pastures new was eased by their defeat of Udinese in the play-offs.

And the Gunners' reward for securing their 14th Champions League campaign was a match-up against Didier Deschamps' Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Olympiakos.

Chelsea, the fourth representative from the Premier League and last season's quarter-finalists are in Group E with Valencia, Chelsea new recruit Juan Mata's old club, Bayer Leverkusen and Genk.

The long road to the final at Bayern's Munich stadium starts on September 13 with the opening salvoes of this season's group stages.

The top two placed teams in each group advance to the first knockout round, with the third-placed teams dropping down to the Europa League.

Champions League group stages in full:

Group A

Bayern
Villarreal
Man. City
Napoli

Group B

Inter
CSKA Moskva
Lille
Trabzonspor

Group C

Man. United
Benfica
Basel
Otelul

Group D

Real Madrid
Lyon
Ajax
Dinamo Zagreb

Group E

Chelsea
Valencia
Leverkusen
Genk

Group F

Arsenal
Marseille
Olympiacos
Dortmund

Group G

Porto
Shakhtar
Zenit
APOEL

Group H

Barcelona
Milan
BATE
Plzen

Source: Agencies