Next season’s Champions League groups are set following a momentous event in Monaco. Barca, Inter and BVB were placed in the group of death, Real Madrid and PSG were paired together while Manchester City got the easiest group among the heavyweights. Here are the Talking Points. You can bet on the UCL here.
Easy groups for English teams
English teams Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea got some fair teams in last night’s Champions League draw. Liverpool were drawn with Napoli for the second year running in Group E together with Red Bull Salzburg and Genk. Both teams won their home encounters against one another last season and things might not be any different this time. Chelsea were fairly grouped with Valencia, Ajax and Lille in Pool H. Spurs were placed in Group B alongside German champions Bayern Munich, Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade. Maurico Pochettino’s side reached the final last season and, considering they were grouped with Barcelona and Inter Milan last year, they should easily go through this time. City landed probably the easiest group. They were placed in Group C alongside Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta. They should win this with no fuss.
The Group of Death
Group F is the most eye-catching group. Former winners of the competition Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan were placed together in what has been described as the Group of Death. Both Barca and Inter were in the same group last season with the latter failing to go through to the last 16. Barcelona are favourites to win the group leaving BVB and Inter to battle for second place. On paper and pedigree, Slavia Prague is the weakest team in the group.
Real Madrid and PSG
Two European heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid were paired in Group A. We should expect two nail-biting encounters between these two teams. The quality between them is mind-blowing and it would be impossible for both of them to fail to go past the group stage. A second-place finish could be a disaster for any team since they would likely meet another heavyweight in the knockout rounds. Galatasaray and Club Brugge will probably have to fight for the third place since they would need a miracle to finish in any of the top two spots.
Tough draw for Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid have undergone a massive overhaul this summer and they are not the same team they were a few seasons ago. Core first-team players Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, Diego Godin, Juanfran and Filipe Luis have left the club. However, there have been a lot of arrivals, such as Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix. Atletico have been matched up in Group D alongside Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow. Leverkusen are not a bad team and will surely challenge Diego Simeone’s side for the second spot with the Italians favourites to win the group. Therefore, questions about this Atletico side still linger as the group stage fixtures edges closer.
Group G: Most Competitive group.
This is probably the most open group of all. Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Olympique Lyon and RB Leipzig all have a chance of making it past the group stage. Lyon and Benfica are more experienced but Leipzig and Zenit each boast quality. The French side made it past the group stage last season and are clear favourites. Leipzig struggled the last time they played but have a competent Julian Nagelsman at the helm which makes them worthy opponents. Although this group lacks the glamour, its competitiveness make it captivating.