It’s a new season, and that means a new UEFA Champions League and Europa League for the top teams in Europe to compete in and win. On Thursday, the group stage draws of the Champions League were made, and we saw some players that moved during the summer have fixtures against their former clubs. The Europa League draws were also made on Friday, and we’ll be looking at the various clubs in each group, and how well they can perform against their counterparts.
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The Champions League group stage draws
The race for Champions League spots ended with the play-offs, where we saw Rangers defeat PSV Eindhoven to secure their place in the Champions League. This means that it will be the first time we’ll be seeing Rangers and Celtic, both from Scotland, competing in the same Champions League tournament since 2007/08. To that effect, Rangers were drawn in the same group with last year’s finalists, Liverpool, the Eredivise champions, Ajax, and Napoli.
Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski, will also be set to face his former club, Bayern Munich, as Barcelona were drawn with the German champions, Inter Milan, and Viktoria Plzen. Xavi and his boys would have to be well-prepared against the Bavarians, judging by their records, if they want to excel past the group stages.
Another player who’d be facing his former team is Erling Braut Haaland. His current club, Manchester City were drawn with Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, and FC Copenhagen. Fikayo Tomori will also be meeting Chelsea, because the Italian champions, AC Milan were drawn with the Blues, RB Salzburg, and Dinamo Zagreb. Tottenham Hotspur and Antonio Conte were handed a fairly easier draw as they will meet with Europa League champions, Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP, and Olympique Marseille.
Based on their transfer activity and their resurgence under Antonio Conte, they should be able to surmount the group well, although the other teams there are no pushovers.
14-time winners of the Champions League, Real Madrid will have supposedly little competition in their group, as they face local champions, Celtic, Timo Werner’s RB Leipzig, and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group F. Real Madrid have won the Champions League when they’ve been drawn with Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage 3 times, so it could be a good omen for them again. Star-studded PSG will face Juventus, as well as Benfica, and Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League group stage draws, en route to the final in Istanbul, Turkey.
The Group Stages
Group A — Ajax Amsterdam, Liverpool, SSC Napoli, and Rangers
Group B — Atletico de Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge, and FC Porto,
Group C — FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Internazionale Milan, and Viktoria Plzen
Group D — Eintracht Frankfurt, Olympique de Marseille, Sporting CP, and Tottenham Hotspur
Group E — AC Milan, Chelsea, Dinamo Zagreb, and RB Salzburg
Group F — Celtic, RB Leipzig, Real Madrid, and Shakhtar Donetsk
Group G — Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen, Manchester City, and Sevilla,
Group H — Benfica, Juventus, Maccabi Haifa, and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Europa League group stage draws
Manchester United ended last season on a disappointing note, and as such, were fortunate to get a place in the Europa League alongside high-flying Arsenal. The Red Devils will face Real Sociedad, who they won 4-0 in the 2020/21 Europa League knockout stages before losing the final to Villareal via penalties. Alongside Real Sociedad, they’ll also be playing against the boys from Moldova that shocked Real Madrid in the Champions League group stages last season, Sheriff Tiraspol.
Arsenal, on their part, will play PSV Eindhoven who couldn’t qualify for Champions League football via the playoffs, Bodo Glimt, which thrashed Roma 6-1 in the Europa Conference League group stages last season, and Swiss champions, FC Zurich. Europa Conference League champions, Jose Mourinho’s Roma, were drawn with a sturdy Real Betis, FC Ludogorets, and HJK in Group C.
The Group Stages
Group A — Arsenal, Bodo/Glimt, PSV Eindhoven, and FC Zurich
Group B — Dynamo Kyiv, Fenerbahçe, AEK Larnaca, and Stade Rennais,
Group C — HJK, FC Ludogorets, Real Betis, and AS Roma
Group D — Braga, Malmo FF, Union Berlin, Union Saint-Gilloise
Group E — Manchester United, Omonoia, Real Sociedad, and Sheriff Tiraspol,
Group F — Feyenoord, Lazio, FC Midtjylland, and Sturm Graz
Group G — Freiburg, Nantes, Olympiakos, and Qarabag,
Group H: Ferencvaros, Monaco, Red Star Belgrade, and Trabzonspor
Who do you think will qualify from the Europa League groups?