The excitement was huge - now the players, the fans and the board of TSG Hoffenheim know who their opponents will be in the club's first season in Europe's elite competition. In Group F, TSG will face Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Olympique Lyon. Thursday's draw in Monaco threw up two peculiarities for TSG Hoffenheim: Lyon will have to play their first home match behind closed doors due to disturbances last season during their Europa League round of 16 match against CSKA Moscow. Eleven time Ukrainian champions Shakhtar no longer play at their home stadium in Donetsk as a result of the ongoing conflict in east Ukraine. Their home games currently take place in Kharkiv, which was one of the venues for UEFA Euro 2012. Manchester City, who claimed their fifth English title in May, play at the Etihad Stadium.
Two former superstars had a part to play in placing TSG in Group F at the draw ceremony in Monte Carlo. The Brasilian Kaka took ''Hoffe'' out as the first of eight teams from pot 4, whilst Uruguay's Diego Forlan was the man who ensured TSG were placed in Group F.
Nagelsmann: ''We're happy''
''We're really happy with the draw. It's an interesting group for us. Manchester City are obviously a huge team, but we wanted to pit ourselves against the best. Lyon have often impressed, above all in the past. Donetsk have a lot of Brasilians, who are very good technically,'' said head coach Julian Nagelsmann. ''It's our first time in the Champions League, so we're the underdogs. That's natural. But I really believe we can do something in this group. There are other groups that would have been harder. We need to be at our best in order to compete. We've set ourselves the goal of performing better in the group phase than we did last year in the Europa League,'' he added. Nagelsmann was in contact with Man City's Pep Guardiola just a few days ago. ''We wrote to each other saying how we both felt that we would be drawn against one another. I really can't wait for the reunion. I'm hugely excited to see what awaits us in Manchester.''
TSG Director of Football Alexander Rosen had this to say regarding the outlook for the group: ''We would be delighted to make it through the group phase, even if it is our first time in the competition. But we're not deluding ourselves in thinking that we'll cruise through to the round of 16. We're ambitious nonetheless and we've set ourselves the goal of performing successfully in the group phase.''
Hopp: ''I believe in our chances''
Dietmar Hopp, lead shareholder at TSG, gave his reaction to the draw: ''My biggest fear was that we'd get Liverpool out of pot 3. That would have made things extremely difficult. Group F will surely be dominated by Manchester City, but we can compete with Lyon and Donetsk. I believe in our chances, but I'd also be happy if we end up in the Europa League after the group phase is done.''
The fixtures will be confirmed by the European Football Association (UEFA) the evening after the draw at around 21.00 CET. This process will take particular consideration of the interests of the TV companies who hold the broadcasting rights for the Champions League. UEFA also takes care to ensure that clubs from a particular nation are not playing their home games at the same time. Hoffenheim's schedule (date, kick-off times) will therefore be coordinated with the respective schedules of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.
All information regarding the pre-sale of a triple package ticket for the three Champions League home games can be found here.