The 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season kicked off on Thursday when the draw for the new campaign was held and Europe’s biggest clubs set against each as 32 teams will play in the battle for the continent’s top prize.
After the anxiety created before the draw, there were smiles for some and worry for others as the different groups took shape in the race to reach the Final come June next year.
Soccernet.ng x-rays the winners and losers of the Champions League draw.
The official result of the 2019/20 #UCLdraw! 😍
3⃣ toughest groups are __ __ & __ 🤔 pic.twitter.com/c7Xdro1vhn
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 29, 2019
Probably the only club with a real shot at the title even before a ball is kicked after being handed a group they should cruise through with minimum fuse. Pep Guardiola’s men have yet again avoided other big names like Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid or Napoli to get Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta.
Only Atalanta could give the Citizens any problems but much is not expected from the Italians who are participating for the first time. And even if City drop points in the odd game or two, they are still strong enough to pick all nine points at home and a couple more away to top the group.
The Series A side find themselves in the same group with European champions Liverpool in a repeat of last year’s matchup but Carlo Ancelotti’s men would be happier this time around because the group this term is far from being a Group of Death.
Last season Napoli were edged out of a qualifying spot by PSG but this time neither Salzburg or Genk appear capable of denying the Italians a place in the next round beside Liverpool. Napoli fans should be ecstatic about their prospect in the Champions League group stage.
All lovers of football should be delighted that this is not one of those years when the really interesting, unforgettable games are served up only after the conclusion of hostilities in the group stages.
The tournament this year is loaded right from the get go. Neutral or not, we will get to witness all of these matchups twice:
Real Madrid vs. PSG
Bayern vs. Tottenham
Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus
Liverpool vs. Napoli
Barcelona vs. Dortmund
Barcelona vs. Inter
Inter vs. Dortmund
Chelsea vs. Ajax
Valencia vs. Chelsea, and lots more.
That’s a truck load of top quality matches to whet the appetite of any fan of the sport till the end of the year.
Fans are guaranteed a treat when these side do battle with any if these clubs capable of making it to the round of 16.
There can be no argument that the Catalans’ group is the number one “Group of Death”. Group F has alongside Barcelona, Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, Series A’s Inter Milan and Czech’s Slavia Prague in what promises to be a bloodbath for precious points.
Although, with Messi Barca remain the clear favourites yet one or two slip ups can throw the Spanish champions into big problems. Any of Dortmund and a rejuvenated Inter Milan should be ready to capitalize on the woes of the other teams. The race for the second qualifying spot in this group should be more intense than in any other group.
After putting up the most dogged of fights to make the Bundesliga’s top four last term, Bayer’s reward is a matchup with two tournament favourite Juventus and Atletico Madrid. It would be foolhardy though to rule out Leverkusen before kickoff.
The Germans are a beautiful attacking side and on a good day should trouble Juventus and Atletico at their home ground. The pressure is on the Italian side to top the group but with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks, you know the Italian champions have enough in their arsenal to deal with such pressure. Diego Simeone’s men would be expected to make the next round after them, leaving the Germans facing an early exit to Europa League – a sad way to end a year that promised so much.
Champions League action starts September 17.