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The four-time champions take on the Portuguese giants, while they also face trips to Russia and Scotland in an interesting section for the Catalans

Ben Hayward, Spanish football writer

Barcelona have been handed what looks like a comfortable draw. In 15 games against Spartak Moscow, Benfica and Celtic, the Catalans have won seven, drawn six and lost just two. Ronald Koeman hit two free kicks as Barca thrashed Spartak 5-1 in 1994 (after a 2-2 draw in Moscow), in the second group phase, while the Catalans knocked out Benfica with a 2-0 last-16 aggregate win in 2006, en route to the trophy. Two years earlier, Frank Rijkaard's side were surprisingly eliminated from the Uefa Cup by Celtic, 1-0 on aggregate, but the 2006, 2009 and 2011 champions won't be expected to have many problems against any of these teams this time around.

BARCELONA
SEASON 2011-12
League:
Runners-up
Europe: Champions League semi-finalists
Coach: Tito Vilanova

Appointed: 2012

Stadium: Camp Nou

Capacity: 99,354

Best Champions League performance: Winners four times (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011)
THE DANGER MAN
Lionel Messi

Barca's three-time Ballon d'Or winner hit 14 goals in the Champions League in 2011-12 to equal Jose Altafini's European Cup record set in 1962-63. The Argentine netted five times in one match alone, a 7-1 trouncing of Bayer Leverkusen, but suffered semi-final heartbreak as he missed a penalty in the 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea, which saw Barca surprisingly eliminated at the penultimate hurdle and unable to defend the crown they won in 2010-11.

BENFICA
SEASON 2011-12
League:
Runners-up
Europe: Champions League quarter-finals
Manager: Jorge Jesus

Appointed: 2009

Stadium:
Estadio da Luz

Capacity:
65,647

Best Champions League performance:
Winners two times (1961, 1962)
THE DANGER MAN
Nicolas Gaitan

The Argentine hit the ground running after making the move from Boca Juniors in 2010 and has not looked back since. A classy attacking midfielder with a potent left foot and a tendency to drift unnoticed between the lines, he starred during his side's run to the quarter-finals last season, turning in the sort of performances that have attracted strong interest from some of Europe's biggest clubs. He will be key to the Lisbon side's fortunes this time around.

SPARTAK MOSCOW
SEASON 2011-12
League:
Second
Europe: Europa League play-off round
Manager: Unai Emery

Appointed: 2012

Stadium:
Luzhniki Stadium

Capacity:
78,360

Best Champions League performance:
Semi-finalists (1991)
THE DANGER MAN
Emmanuel Emenike

Emenike thought he would be representing Fenerbahce last season, but the Nigerian striker was sold just two months after being purchased from Karabukspor due to the Turkish club's participation in a match-fixing scandal.

Unperturbed by the chaos the 25-year-old settled in quickly at his new club in Russia, bagging an impressive return of one in two for the season, helped in part by his ludicrously powerful right-foot and his ability to stay on his feet under pressure.

CELTIC
SEASON 2011-12
League:
Champions
Europe: Europa League group stage
Manager: Neil Lennon

Appointed: 2010

Stadium:
Celtic Park

Capacity:
60,832

Best Champions League performance:
Round of 16 (2007, 2008)
THE DANGER MAN
Gary Hooper


Hooper's goalscoring exploits in the English lower tiers earned him a £2.4 million move from Scunthorpe United to Celtic in 2010, and the highly prolific 24-year-old shows no sign of losing momentum.

Finishing his first season as the Bhoys' top scorer, the Harlow-born hitman felt he was deserving of a England call-up for Euro 2012, although the call never came. Nevertheless, with an incredibly lucrative scoring return under his belt at such a relative young age, Hooper's confidence makes him a danger to any opposition - and one to watch for the future.

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