The draw for the Champions League 2019/20 was made last Thursday and fans are in for a treat as some of the biggest names in European football are set to face off in the Group stages. The likes of PSG and Real Madrid will go head-to-head in Group A, Bayern Munich are to clash with Spurs in Group B, whilst Group F looks particularly thrilling.
Current European Champions, Liverpool seem to have an easy ride in Group E, with Napoli looking like the only real threat to the Reds but then again, anything can happen. Take Liverpool’s 4-0 victory to Barcelona last season for example, that’s one that will go down in history.
Group A consists of major football giants Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain as well as Club Brugge and Galatasaray.
Last season, PSG didn’t make it past the Last 16, losing to Manchester United after Marcus Rashford’s last minute penalty. PSG have made some major transfers this season and with both Neymar (despite the transfer saga) and Kylian Mbappe in their midst, this side could be a real danger to any team.
Mbappe finished last season with 33 goals in 29 league games and 4 in the 2018/19 Champions League and was later awarded the Ligue 1 Player of the Year Award. Thomas Tuchel is spoilt for choice when it comes to his attacking side and his defence is strong too, so I wouldn’t underestimate PSG this season.
13-time European Champions Real Madrid have acquired creative forward and ex-Chelsea star Eden Hazard, who will be a key player for Zinedine Zidane this season. Zidane boasts an impressive record himself, he has three consecutive titles to his name, having never lost a Champions League tournament during his reign of management.
Last season, Madrid like PSG, were eliminated in the last 16 to Ajax and they’ve had a rocky start in the 2019/20 La Liga thus far, though with Zidane at the helm, it’s more than likely that they’ll go far in the tournament. Will they snatch a 14th European crown?
Club Brugge were runners up in the Belgian League and Galatasaray are champions in their home country. Whilst either may appear as no challenge to the ‘big boys’, both Real Madrid and PSG shouldn’t undermine these two, who could make some threatening moves this season.
Spurs will face Bayern Munich for the first time since 1983! Tottenham Hotspurs just missed out on a Champions League victory last season, losing 2-0 to Liverpool in the finals after a whirlwind 3-2 win in the semi-finals against Ajax.
This season, they’ll be looking to do one better and now with Dele Alli, Son Heung-Min and Christian Eriksen back in action, along with Spurs newer additions Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele, could Mauricio Pochettino’s side bring a European trophy back to the UK?
Bayern Munich are also looking fearsome this season, especially having received Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho out on loan. His playmaking ability in midfield is masterful, combine that with striking sensation Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich could cause havoc. The match between Spurs and Bayern is sure to be exciting.
Though Olympiacos were runners up in the Greek Super League, they haven’t had much luck in the Champions League, often failing to get past the group stages. Red Star Belgrade took many by surprise last season when they defeated Liverpool 2-0 in Serbia, so an away trip to face this team may be daunting for the other sides in this group.
Current Premier League Champions Manchester City don’t look to be up against any challenges in Group C. They will face Shakhtar Donetsk again this season, whom they defeated last year by an aggregate of 9-0.
Last season, the Citizens lost out on a semi-final place on away goals to Spurs but Pep Guardiola’s side has had some major transfers this season which have only strengthened the team. Juventus’s, Joao Cancelo made Etihad Stadium his new home and Rodri signed from Atletico Madrid, who is proving to be a worthy transfer, as he has also offered to step into central defence to replace Aymeric Laporte after he encountered an injury against Brighton & Hove Albion. Either way, there’s no denying that Man City is not short of talented players.
So, it seems that Shakhtar Donetsk, Atalanta and Dinamo Zagreb will be battling for second place in this stage, with the latter looking the least likely to secure the position. Atalanta may be the most interesting opponent for Man City. Last season they were an exciting team to watch but this is their first time ever playing in the Champions League and it will be a huge step up from what this side will be used to.
Atletico Madrid have a bone to pick with Juventus after they were defeated 3-0 at Allianz Stadium in the last campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo was a nightmare for Atletico, seeing all the gaps in their defence to score a hat-trick for his side and take the lead 3-2 on aggregate. Revenge is definitely on the cards and whilst Atletico have lost Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona, they have started the new season with success having acquired Kieran Trippier and Joao Felix.
In Atletico’s and Juve’s most recent meeting during the International Champions Cup, Atletico sealed the win 2-1. It’s going to be hard to call who will get the top spot between these two teams.
Let’s not forget Bayer Leverkusen, who could cause upset as this side is often unpredictable. They came fourth in the Bundesliga and midfielder, Kai Havertz has fast become a problem for opposing teams. In the 2018/19 campaign, he became the first teenager in Bundesliga history to reach 17 goals and as Julian Brandt has left for Borussia Dortmund, it’s likely he’ll be heavily relied on by manager, Peter Bosz.
Lokomotiv Moscow showed consistency last season but whether that will be enough to secure a top two finish seems unlikely when Juventus and Atletico Madrid are in the mix.
European Champions Liverpool, will meet Napoli once again in the group stages. Last season, the two traded a goal apiece, with Liverpool only just scraping past thanks to an almighty save by Alisson. Jurgen Klopp has strengthened his team since then, without disrupting its current dynamics by only signing Dutch defender Sepp Van den Berg and ex-Fulham midfielder Harvey Elliott. This can only work in the Reds favour, as they won’t need to adapt to any real changes but can hopefully pick up from where they left off.
However, Napoli will be a real challenge for Liverpool this season as Carl Ancelotti’s side is looking evidently stronger. His attacking set, Hirving Lozano and Kostas Manolas could be any sides worst nightmare and his defence doesn’t lack talent either. Keep an eye out for Napoli this season.
Red Bull Salzburg are tough contenders too and as many know, anything can happen in the Champions League so don’t bet against this side either. Liverpool and Napoli will need to be on top form if they aren’t to be caught slipping by RB Salzburg. KRC Genk seem less of a threat but if nothing else, this side could provide fans with an exciting fixture.
Barcelona, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund in one group? Explosive. Slavia Prague certainly can’t be happy to be up against these deadly sides and it seems like a bottom place finish is what’s on the cards for this team. Fans will definitely be in for a few thrilling fixtures from this group.
Barcelona have Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez in their possession, Inter have Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, whilst BVB have English starlet, Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt in their hands. The possibilities in this group are endless.
Barcelona have gone four years without making an appearance in the final and their attacking trio could certainly make a difference this season. There’s no doubt this Spanish side will make it through, though not with ease with the likes of Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund in the mix.
BVB gave an impressive performance in the Bundesliga last season, finishing in second place behind Bayern Munich by two points. Their attacking forwards Sancho and Marco Reus were arguably some of the best players in the Bundesliga last season and will no doubt flourish in the Champions League. Then with Axel Witsel in a defensive midfield role and Manuel Akanji in centre back, BVB are in good stead for first or second place finish.
Inter Milan shouldn’t be dismissed either, it could be a coin flip between them and Dortmund for second place as long as Barcelona perform how we know they can. This is going to be a difficult group, as Barca, Inter and BVB would all be worthy of advancing to the Last 16s.
Group G has a generally even playing field, meaning it’s likely that any group could top this table. Lyon and RB Leipzig are looking like No1 and 2 in this group, with both teams having a few key players to watch out for.
Lyon missed out on a second-place finish by three points in Ligue 1 last season and Sylvinho has some high-quality players at his disposal in the 2019/20 campaign. RP Leipzig, along with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund dominated the Bundesliga’s top players last season, with RP Leipzig’s firecracker Timo Werner, looking like the team’s prime star.
Zenit and Benfica will give tough game too but both haven’t been consistent in recent times.
Ajax just missed out on the finals last year to Spurs by away goals and it’s possible that they could replicate the success of last year in the 2019/20 campaign. They’ve done well so far in the Eredivisie and they’ll probably be the toughest of the bunch for Chelsea. But Ajax have lost two of their key players – Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, which could affect their team’s performance this season.
Frank Lampard’s side should make it through the group stages, though his young team will definitely incur some challenges. They’ve had a few ups and downs in the Premier League thus far but the team seem to be gelling well and with the return of Antonio Rudiger and Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea could get far.
When up against Valencia in the past, the Blues have defeated them with ease, could the same happen again? The only side whose ability remains unknown is Lille, so they could provide fans with some interesting encounters.