MONTE CARLO, Monaco — Defending champion Manchester United will face British rival Celtic in the group stage of the Champions League.

United will also meet Villarreal and Aalborg in the 32-team phase, with the first round scheduled for Sept. 16-17.

"We always love to draw the champion of Europe as we did last year (with FC Barcelona)," Celtic striker Scott McDonald said after the draw Thursday. "All of those things add up to good things and get us to the next round again. They're going to be fantastic games."

United's trip to Villarreal in Group E will revive bad memories of striker Wayne Rooney's sending off there in September 2005 when Alex Ferguson's side failed to progress into the knockout phase.

Chelsea, which lost May's final on penalty kicks to the Red Devils, also has a relatively easy group, featuring AS Roma, Bordeaux and newcomer CFR Cluj.

Five-time champion Liverpool was drawn alongside PSV Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid and Marseille.

That means Liverpool's star striker Fernando Torres, who scored the winner for Spain against Germany in the European Championship final, gets a chance to face his former team, having joined Liverpool from Atletico prior to last season.

"With Fernando and the other Spanish players, there will be huge, huge interest in that one," Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry said. "It's great. That's what makes the Champions League so exciting. It's fantastic."

Juventus has a tough return to the lucrative competition after a two-year absence. The Italians will have to overcome nine-time champion Real Madrid, UEFA Cup winner Zenit St. Petersburg and debutante BATE.

Two-time champion FC Barcelona will meet Sporting, FC Basel and Shakhtar Donetsk.