A new edition of the UEFA champions league It will start next Tuesday, September 14 with the first group stage matches, in which the highest-level teams on the continent will be measured. From favorites to possible revelations, a review of the highlights of each group of the contest.
Manchester City (ING)
Paris Saint Germain (FRA)
Club Bruges (BEL)
In this group is perhaps the most anticipated pairing between Manchester City and PSG. Guardiola’s team, a lion injured after the defeat in the final of the last edition against him Chelsea, is one of the clear favorites to move forward. In front of it, it has the indisputable absolute favorite to lift the trophy, the team from the French capital, which wants to fulfill the dream of its new fans and the Qatari sheiks and finally raise the longed-for Orejona, a dream truncated since the acquisition of the club in 2012 and who came close to reaching him in the 2019/20 final, when he was overtaken by the Bayern Munich.
Both City and PSG are the absolute favorites to advance to the final phase, but the RB Leipzig They are not a minor rival, since they finished second in the Bundesliga (behind the almost unbeatable Bayern) and have an interesting team to play against both. Finally, Bruges are the Belgian champions, but they did not have the best of luck in the draw and it will be difficult for them to qualify third and even get into the UEFA Europa League.
Atlético Madrid (ESP)
The group of death, as defined by football fans, will feature a recharged Atlético Madrid, which in addition to having been champion of Spanish football brought several figures to reverse its European image and fight. El Colchonero added an old acquaintance: Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), but also added the champion of America Rodrigo de Paul (Udinese) and the Brazilian Matheus Cunha (Hertha Berlin), among others, to give more freshness to the attack. Liverpool, on the other hand, arrives nostalgic for their best moments with Klopp and will seek to recover them with a squad and team that comes almost from memory.
Porto and Milan are one or two steps below, but forced to fight in every game. The Portuguese team has an experienced team with several Latin American prospects to consider: Luis Díaz (Colombia), from the great Copa América, Jesús “Tecatito” Corona (Mexico), Mateus uribe (Colombia) and in defense the tireless Pepe (38 years old) and Agustín Marchesín (Argentina).
The Italian team, meanwhile, are returning to the UEFA Champions League after several years of absence. The last edition he played was 2013/14, in which he was eliminated by Atlético Madrid in the round of 16. Rossoneri, in a slow process of construction after a crisis that wiped it off the map and under the leadership of Stefano Pioli, finished second in Serie A and will seek to hit the hand of the eternal Ibrahimovic on offense and the Croatian Ante Rebić, now accompanied by the French Olivier Giroud, brand new addition. His most surprising loss was that of the goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who went free to PSG this last period of passes.
Sporting Lisbon (POR)
Borussia Dortmund (ALE)
A group without outstanding teams, but outstanding in their leagues for a considerable time. Sporting Lisbon comes from being two-time champion in Portuguese football, ousting for the second year in a row Porto and Benfica and he only lost one match last season before lifting the champion trophy. Borussia Dortmund, with a top striker like the Norwegian Erlin Haaland and a squad that combines very well young players with a lot to grow and others with experience (Mats Hummels, Marco Reus, Axel Witsel and Marcel schmelzer are proof of this) is the favorite to reach the round of 16.
On the other hand, Ajax, two-time Dutch football champions, have the difficult task of transferring their good performances from the local to the international, where they have not advanced to the round of 16 since the 2018/19 edition.
As for Besiktas, who stayed with the Turkish Super League over Galatasaray in the last date, he wants to leave behind his bad previous Champions League, where he failed to enter the group stage and was eliminated in a qualifying round. In such an even group, entering the UEFA Europa League would not be a bad result for the club.
Inter Milan (ITA)
Real Madrid (ESP)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
This pairing is perhaps the clearest in terms of level: two teams with chances to fight the tournament and that should advance without problems to the round of 16 (Inter and Real Madrid), one that would fight in the Europa League (Shakhtar) and one several steps down below (Sheriff).
The Neroazzurro and the Merengue have quite complete squads, although different. The Italian team, however, suffered the departure of its star, Romelu lukaku (He went to Chelsea) and brought in Bosnian veteran Edin Džeko (35) in return. In any case, he has the South American talent of Lautaro Martínez on offense along with Alexis Sánchez and Joaquín Correa (in addition to the Uruguayan youth Martín Satriano, promise of the club). Another fundamental drop was that of Achraf hakimi, who was added by the mighty PSG to his all-star team.
Real Madrid has an “organic” squad, with players who know what they have to do and do it, under the orders of Zinedine Zidane. The bad taste of the club was not having achieved the incorporation of Mbappé in this transfer market, a player who due to his individual imbalance would have been the icing on the cake for Merengue. In any case, it has a team with names of a lot of experience, which are repeated year after year: Marcelo, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale (Except for his brief departure to Tottenham).
Shakhtar, vice-champion in Ukraine, promises good football, ball to the ground and possession with the stamp of Roberto De Zerbi, architect of the growth of Sassuolo in Italian football, but it is very far in terms of names for Madrid and Inter.
Finally, the Sheriff of Moldova has already made history: it is the first time that he will play the group stage of the Champions League, after having beaten the Armenian Alashkert Football Club, the Red Star of Belgrade, and Dinamo Zagreb in the previous phases.
Bayern Munich (ALE)
Dynamo Kiev (UCR)
In Group E, Bayern Munich is the favorite team to advance in first place, with a squad that they maintain over time and reinforce with important names to add intensity, verticality and a meticulous big data analyzed by DT Julian to their game. Nagelsmann. To the historical names that we already know that nurture the German National Team, he added the outstanding French defender Dayot Upamecano and the midfielder Marcel sabitzer, both from Leipzig.
Barcelona, with a very decimated squad because it lost the greatest idol in its history, Lionel messi, in addition to having to unleash other of his most important values such as Antoine Griezmann and Miralem Pjanić, he will have to rebuild this season with new names such as those of Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong and Sergio “Kun” Agüero, but making up for the loss of the best will not be an easy task (but an impossible one) for Ronald Koeman.
Jorge Jesus’ Benfica. third in the Portuguese league last season, and Ukraine champions Dinamo Kiev will fight to hit the ground running and unseat Barcelona or get into the UEFA Europa League.
Manchester United (ING)
Young Boys (SUI)
A more complicated pairing than it seems: both Villarreal and Manchester United and Atalanta can fight for the two places to be among the top sixteen. The Swiss Young Boys will have to fight for a place in the Europa League, but any of their aspirations will be difficult.
Villarreal comes from being champion of the Europa League against United himself, in a tremendously even final that gave the Yellow Submarine the winner on penalties. Emery’s team has been keeping a line and has great chances of advancing in a difficult group, despite the fact that the Red Devils are the favorites because of the interesting roster they formed.
Those led by Ole Gunnar Solskjær gradually gathered considerable names, which led him to finish second in the last Premier League behind City. To that establishment they added nothing more and nothing less than the names of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane, as if to stomp again in the Champions League. Sports success will depend on the management of the DT squad and the combination of big names, but there are no shortage of variants to fight on all fronts.
On the other hand, Atalanta and the marked style of Gian Piero Gasperini want to get back into the conversation and surpass their best mark in the Champions League, reached in the last edition (quarter-finals).
RB Salzburg (AUT)
Lille, but especially Seville, are two teams that seek to give something to talk about in this Champions League. The first is the French champion, who snatched Ligue 1 from nothing more and nothing less than PSG last season, cutting him off a streak of three consecutive championships, and whom he also won in the French Super Cup at the beginning of the current one. His main obstacle was the change of coach from the previous season to this one, after the signing of Christophe Galtier in Nice and the assumption of Jocelyn Gourvennec in charge of the main squad, in addition to the sale of several players.
RB Salzburg, for its part, is the absolute dominator in Austrian football after having won its eighth consecutive title, but in the Champions League it never managed to pass the group stage, a milestone that it will seek again in this edition. Wolfsburg, without outstanding names, reached the group stage after finishing fourth in the Bundesliga and will play the tournament for the third time.
Zenit Saint Petersburg (RUS)
In the last group of the bowling alley, Chelsea is the great favorite to advance carefree in the first place followed by Juve. The current champion not only kept his squad almost entirely, but also reinforced it with heavyweights such as Romelo Lukaku (Inter) and Saúl Ñíguez (Atlético Madrid). Juventus, the other favorite, has a consolidated squad but lacks its ace of spades: CR7. The Portuguese left the club to join Manchester United and left La Vecchia Signora without a player who saved him in several encounters that presented him with difficulties. The most resonant addition was that of Moise kean, a former youth of the club who arrives after a good time at PSG to contribute the vacant scoring quota left by Cristiano.
Zenit, three-time champion of Russia, is the favorite to stay with third place and advance to the Europa League over Malmö, champion of Sweden, who returns to the competition after two years of absence.