Previewing the Champions League


The four teams in each group will play twice in the early stages, with the top two of each group advancing to the knockout round. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Michael Hernandez, Assistant Sports Editor

This week, the world’s greatest soccer club competition, the Champions League, will resume. The Champions League is a European soccer competition that pits the best teams against each other to determine the best club in Europe. In the group stages, each team in a group will play every other group twice for a total of six matches. The top two of each group head into the two-legged knockout stages. That all leads to a single match for the final. Chelsea are the defending champions after beating Manchester City 1-0 last year, giving the blues their second Champions League in the club’s history.

The group stage draw was a couple of weeks ago but things have changed dramatically since after a number of players switched clubs during the transfer window. The eight groups are as follows:

Group A: Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain (PSG), RB Leipzig, and Club Brugge

Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, FC Porto, and AC Milan

Group C: Sporting CP, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax, and Besiktas

Group D: Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Shaktar Donesk, and Sheriff

Group E: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv

Group F: Villareal, Manchester United, Atlanta, Young Boys

Group G: Lille (LOSC), Sevilla, Salzburg, Wolfsberg

Group H: Chelsea, Juventus, Zenit, Malmo

The “group of death” is easily group B, with 15 Champions League titles among the four teams. Following that, it is a close tie between either group A or D. Group D is almost an exact copy of last year’s — minus Sheriff — closely fought group that saw Real Madrid barely advance with Inter Milan finishing last. Group A has two heavyweights in Manchester City and PSG. With PSG’s new signings, these two powerhouse clubs colliding should be one of the must-see matches. I predict that both teams will advance. Each club is heavily stacked and have huge expectations to go far into the tournament, so qualification to the knockout stages is a must. 

Group B is difficult to predict, with each team having a strong chance to advance. However, I believe that it will be Atletico Madrid and Liverpool who join the last 16. 

Dortmund will top Group C with their star striker Erling Haaland. The “Terminator” has already scored 12 goals in six games across all competitions and will definitely score goals in the group stage. The other team to qualify in group C will be Ajax. Real Madrid and Inter are the favorites in Group D. I expect Inter to do better this time around, despite finishing at the bottom last year and losing key players such as Romelu Lukaku.

For Group E, Bayern and Barcelona should cruise to the round of 16. It will be interesting to see how those two teams play against each other. The previous result was a dominant 8-2 win for Bayern as they humiliated Barcelona for their worst defeat in a European competition. 

Manchester United should comfortably make it to the knockout stage from Group F. They have an easy group and the last minute signing of Cristiano Ronaldo will only make things easier. They will face Villareal in a rematch of last year’s Europa League final where United lost 1-1 (11-10 penalties). Goalkeeper David De Gea missed his penalty to give Villareal their first ever European trophy. Now, they can be expected to advance to the second round of this tournament. LOSC and Sevilla will qualify for the round of 16 in Group G.

That leaves one final group, H. For the defending champions, Chelsea’s only real competition there is Juventus, who may regress after losing Ronaldo as the blues boast their new signing, Romelu Lukaku. Both teams, however, will qualify.

That being said, take my predictions with a bit of salt because anything can happen in the Champions League. The first matchday of the group stage is this week. You can see the upcoming matches here and the group standings here. For this matchday, Bayern v Barcelona, Liverpool v AC Milan, and Inter v Real Madrid are the matches to watch. Fans throughout the world now await another exciting battle for the world’s greatest club trophy.