Now that the Football season is well and truly back underway, there’s only one small thing missing from our lives – the UEFA Champions League. Mercifully, the wait is almost over as the draw for the group-stage has been made; and there are some mouth-watering fixtures coming our way. The poignant question being – can anyone end Real Madrid’s dominance of the competition after winning three successive titles?
Prior to the draw, the 32 teams were as usual seeded into four pots based on their performance in their respective domestic leagues. Pot 1 consisted of the winners of various domestic leagues of Europe, including Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain; as well as last years Champions League winners Real Madrid. The remaining pots featured teams that finished in their domestic leagues in the top spots for Champions League qualification (which in the case of the Premier League is the top four), whilst the remaining pots even include teams that reached the group stage draw through the earlier Champions League qualifying rounds.
Find the full breakdown below of the pots that eventually drew the official Champions League Groups, as follows:
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Athletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City City, Juventus, Paris St Germain, Lokomotiv Moscow
Pot 2: B Dortmund, Porto, Man United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Benfica, Napoli, Tottenham, Roma
Pot 3: Liverpool, Schalke, Lyon, Monaco, Ajax, CSKA Moscow, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia
Pot 4: Viktoria Plzen, Brugge, Galatasaray, Young Boys, Inter Milan, Hoffenheim, Red Star Belgrade, AEK Athens
Now the resulting group draw makes prospects even more entertaining and fair, since clubs hailing from the same nation cannot be placed in the same group. For example, Valencia and Athletico Madrid wouldn’t be able to face each other until the knockout stages. This rule is in place in order to allow each country the opportunity to have strong representation in the latter stages of the tournament, which also makes the Champions League even more special, since it also brings out the national support between the different nations whom are competing
Here is the results of the Champions League group stage draw in full:
Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Club Brugge
Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan
Group C: Paris St-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade
Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray
Group E: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens
Group F: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim
Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen
Group H: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys
There’re enough big ties to excite any football fan, with perhaps the pick of the bunch being Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford with his new club Juventus. The Portuguese striker is an iconic figure in Manchester United folklore and we’re sure Manchester United fans will be itching for him to return – so long as he’s on the losing team, obviously.
Another standout game sees Liverpool go head-to-head with PSG, against Neymar Junior and Kylian Mbappe, which will be no easy task as PSG boast one of the most potent attacks in world football. But, Liverpool have an equally threatening attacking trio – Mohamed Salah, Saido Mane and Roberto Firmino – so it’s set to be a cracking match.
Tottenham Hotspurs v Barcelona is another exciting fixture, as the Catalonians still remain one the biggest forces in football today, as Messi alone is an intimating prospect, without considering Suarez or Coutinho, who are also world class players. Then throw PSV Eindhoven and Inter Milan into the same group, and Tottenham will have some serious work to do, although they are expected to qualify on paper.
Manchester City have been handed arguably the easiest group by any standards, and Pep Guardiola will be hoping to progress further this season, after being eliminated by Liverpool in last years Champions League Quarter Final, whilst Real Madrid have an equally easy group, with the biggest competition being AS Roma.
Now that the group have been officially drawn, we can begin the endless speculation and comparison of statistics of who will progress beyond the groups and even further to who will win the competition this season. No matter who your club has been pitted against in the group draw, there’s only one thing that truly matters and that’s that the Champions League is back!
Story by Nathan Warby
Featured Photo Credit: AS English – Diario AS