When the draw for the Champions League groups is done, there is always a lot of excitement – as the group your team is placed in may help to decide exactly how far they go in the competition.
It also decides when and where each fixture will be played, and this gives fans something to look forward to as they are then able to plan their schedules for the upcoming season.
We’ve taken a look at the groups and the competition as a whole to help us consider who might be contenders for this season.
Of all the games that will be played in this group, the one to be looked forward to perhaps the most will be Manchester City Vs PSG. PSG now have Messi on their side, and this adds a little interest to the group. It could indeed be the case the Messi is the magic touch that could finally take PSG to the Champion’s League victory that they’ve been waiting for.
At any other time, Liverpool might be firm favourites in this group, but it remains to be seen whether their drop in form last year was just because of an unlucky run of injuries, or whether there is more at play behind the scenes. Either way, Group B is a group where all teams could be serious contenders, but Liverpool are still at the front of the race when it comes to the expert predictions at the moment.
This may well be the toughest call, with little to separate the teams in this group. Dortmund has the highest coefficient, which means that they could well be the team to watch here, but there is also a lot to be said for Sporting, who have the momentum behind them after winning their first national victory in 19 years back at home in Portugal. They will still be hungry for prizes, and this could help to propel them forward in this competition.
If you’re experiencing déjà vu here, that’s because 3 of the 4 sides were drawn together last season, too. However, that’s not to say that the result is going to be the same. Inter Milan should be strong on paper, but thanks to the recent loss of their manager, it’s Real Madrid who are at the top of the predictions in Group D this season.
On paper, you may look and assume that Bayern Munich will be the winners of this group, and there are many experts who would certainly agree with this prediction. Barcelona are navigating the loss of Messi, which could lessen their chances in this competition. This, along with the solid form of Munich at the moment, supports the theory that this group shouldn’t be too much for them to worry about.
Manchester United have a lot to prove this season after not making it through the group stage last year, and this means that they will be fighting as hard as they can this time around. There is no doubt that they have the players on their team to help them succeed, the manager Solskjaer has a great team under him providing he’s able to show solid leadership and take the team all the way. Although it may look as though Manchester have an easier group than they might have had in the past, it is important that they don’t underestimate the teams they’re up against – with Atlanta, in particular, being ones to watch.
If ever there was a chance for RB Salzburg to make it through the group stage – which is something they have never managed to do before – then this would certainly be the season for it. The team have drawn against the weaker teams from Pot 1 and Pot 2, meaning that they have quite possibly the best chance they’ve ever had. The rise of success in Salzburg is largely thanks to the continuing sponsorship from Red Bull, and it remains to be seen if the team will be able to capitalise on the success that they have enjoyed in recent times.
It comes as no surprise that Chelsea FC is predicted to be the top of this group, and the addition of Lukaku brings them even more strength than they already had. The addition means that the Chelsea team of this season are even stronger than they were when they won the Champions League last season, and they will certainly be trying to fight as hard as possible to retain their title. Few would bet against them – though many believe that Juventus will give them a run for their money in the group stage.
A challenging time
There is no question that football teams have found the last couple of seasons challenging, thanks to the ongoing challenges the world. Now, however, seems to be a chance to grab hold of some normality and get back to the sport as we know it.
Many teams have faced financial difficulties as a direct and indirect result, and this means that they might not be as strong as they otherwise would have been. Indeed, some teams have had to ask their players and staff to take pay cuts in the short term, to allow their clubs to survive what has certainly been a very difficult period in history.
That being said, however, everything that we as a world have faced will only serve to motivate teams to get back out there and do everything that they can to try and bring the victory home with them. Although only one team will be able to win overall, the first challenge that teams face will be getting out of the group stages – and every single team will be trying to win their group.
Although the predictions above are what experts suggest will happen, all teams have been affected throughout 2020 and 2021 which may have levelled the playing field somewhat. There is no doubt that this season will be one to watch – and we may even find that some dark horses grab hold of the opportunity to shine with both hands.