The UEFA Champions League group stage draw was an historic one for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, representing the first time their name has been in the hat for the tournament proper.

And amid the ball rummaging, Hoffenheim were plucked from their pot and dropped into Group F alongside the respective champions of England and Ukraine in Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk, as well as last year's bronze medallist in Ligue 1; Lyon.

It will lead to somewhat of a baptism of fire for Hoffenheim as Julian Nagelsmann leads them into their Champions League group stage debut before bowing out at the end of the season himself.

With the first round of group fixtures to be played on 19 September, we at have put together a bit of essential reading ahead of Hoffenheim's pursuit of Champions League glory with a rundown of their Group F rivals.

Manchester City

City are the current Premier League champions, with former Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gündogan (pictured). © imago

Having romped to the English Premier League title with both pomp and swagger, Manchester City were a joy to watch under Pep Guardiola last season. There are clear similarities between Guardiola and Nagelsmann with both managers looking to play an expansive brand of football that is shaping the modern game.

City have made no secret of their desire for Champions League success with large swathes of investment attempting to propel the club to continental supremacy. Meanwhile, Hoffenheim will be hoping for a better return against English opposition than their debut in Champions League qualifying last season that saw them exit 6-4 on aggregate to eventual runners-up Liverpool.

Key player – Sergio Aguero

Manchester City's all-time record goalscorer may have left his twenties behind this year but is still one of the most potent strikers on the planet. Also the club's record scorer in both European and Champions League football, Aguero could cause more than a few nightmares for Nagelsman's defenders.

Aguero helped City beat Gladbach in the 2016/17 Champions League group stage. © imago / Colorsport

Key to the games

Watching Man City, it's hard to pick out a weakness, such is their dominance at times. However, Hoffenheim should take heart in the manner of Liverpool's victories over City last season. Former Borussia Dortmund supremo Jürgen Klopp masterminded City's downfall over two-legs of the Champions League quarter-final, as well as a 5-0 thumping in the league.

In those games Liverpool pressed high and all over the pitch, forcing City to do far more defending and chasing of the ball than they are used to. If Hoffenheim can replicate this intensity then there's every chance they can take points off City.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Shakhtar beat Werder Bremen in the 2009 UEFA Cup final, their biggest triumph to date.
Shakhtar beat Werder Bremen in the 2009 UEFA Cup final, their biggest triumph to date. © gettyimages / FRANCK FIFE

Unlike Hoffenheim, the Ukrainians have pedigree when it comes to European football, having won the UEFA Europa League in 2009 and reached the semi-final stage just two years ago. Last year, they fell agonisingly short of their best ever performance in the Champions League, losing only on away goals to Roma in the last 16.

Follow Matchday 1 at Shakhtar HERE!

The Miners, as the club are fondly known, also have an admirable record against German clubs. That is as long as they are not facing Borussia Dortmund, who have beaten them on three occasions and drawn the other. Against Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Werder Bremen, they still boast unbeaten records with only Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich succeeding in beating them once, in addition to Dortmund.

Key player – Junior Moraes

The likes of former Bayern winger Douglas Costa, Willian and Fred have all previously played for Shakhtar, and it looks like Junior Moraes could be the next Brazilian to shine in their colours. A summer recruit from Dynamo Kiev, the travelled forward scored six goals in his first six games this season, benefitting from a great understanding with his compatriots Marlos and Taison, who not only speak the same language, but appear to be on the same wavelength as the 31-year-old forward.

Junior Moraes (l.), with Shakhtar coach Paulo Fonseca, will be the man to keep an eye on for Hoffenheim. © imago / ZUMA Press

Key to the games

Shakhtar proved once again last season how difficult they are to beat, emerging from their group with Manchester City and eliminating Napoli and Feyenoord, although they did show some defensive frailties by conceding nine in the group stage alone. If Hoffenheim can take the game to them in the first meeting, on home soil and with their own fans behind them, gaps could appear for Nagelsmann's men to exploit. 

Olympique Lyon

Lyon's recent trips to Germany have hardly been filled with success, which could augur well for Hoffenheim.

The seven-time champions of France are back for their 13th participation in the Champions League after seeing their dreams of playing the Europa League final in their own Parc OL stadium dashed on a penalty shootout with CSKA Moscow in the last 16 last term. They pipped Marseille to third place in France's Ligue 1 last season, and then watched on as their French rivals lost the final of the Europa League to Atletico Madrid – a result which permitted them to qualify directly for the group stage of this season's Champions League and not be forced to enter the qualifiers.

Les Gones – or The Kids, in Lyon's regional dialect – are coached by Bruno Genesio, who has an impressive record since taking charge in December 2015, with a win ratio of over 56 per cent.

Key player - Memphis Depay

The Dutch international Memphis Depay was highly rated as one of Europe's next stars when Manchester United snapped him up from PSV Eindhoven in 2015. Although he failed to light up the Theatre of Dreams, he has rediscovered his spark in France, scoring 19 goals in 36 games last season and providing 13 assists. Still only 24, he has been capped 38 times by the Netherlands (with nine goals) and is certainly a player Hoffenheim will need to keep off the ball as much as possible.

Quick, skilful and with an eye for goal, Memphis Depay is the driving force in Lyon's attack. © imago / Panoramic

Key to the games

Hoffenheim only need look at Bayern Munich for inspiration, with the record Bundesliga champions unbeaten in their last four games against Lyon, including three wins. Lyon's last meeting with Bundesliga opponents also ended in defeat, with Schalke crushing them 3-0 at the Veltins Arena back in November 2010, so the momentum is currently on Germany's and – in this case – Hoffenheim's side.

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