The most prestigious club trophy is up for grabs again. The 27th annual Champions League conducted the group stage draw Aug. 29 in Monaco.
The teams have until Sep. 17 to prepare before games are underway. Which teams will advance, and which teams will fall? Welcome to every club team’s dream of lifting the Champions League trophy.
The group previews will be broken up into two halves. The first part will be groups A through D. The second part will feature groups E through H.
Two of the biggest global giants, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), are paired in the same group.
The other two teams in the group are Club Brugge, which finished second in the Jupiler Pro League, and the current champions in Turkey, Galatasaray.
Real Madrid look to get back to winning ways after losing in the Round of 16 to Ajax. Los Blancos have spent a lot of money, the two big signings being Eden Hazard from Chelsea and Luka Jovic from Frankfurt.
PSG did not spend the money seen the past two summers but made low-risk, high-reward deals. They sure-up the defense with Abdou Diallo at center-back and pick-up striker Mauro Icadi on loan.
The big storyline with them is the Neymar situation. Although the transfer window closed, he did not get his wish to move. It is still up in the air how much playing time he will get.
Club Brugge and Galatasaray will not do damage to Madrid and PSG. They both have average teams but do not have the depth to go past them.
Group B is another group that has two teams above the rest. Bayern Munchen and Tottenham Hotspur should take the group with ease against the Greek champions Olympiacos and Star Belgrade, who are champions in Serbia.
Bayern arguably improved the most of many European giants. The team signed its top player, striker Robert Lewandowski, to an extension after he scored 40 goals last season. Bayern also made two big signings in defense with Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard.
The Pavard deal was an under-the-radar move. He broke on the scene with France during the World Cup winning campaign in 2018. Above-average defenders are at a premium, and the $40 million they spent could be a steal in years to come.
The Hotspur have two of the better attacking players in the Premier League with Harry Kane and Son Heung Min. They have all their focus on the league title but could make another run on the Champions League. They are looking for revenge after losing to Liverpool in the final.
Olympiacos and Star Belgrade are going to be punching bags of sorts. They could pick up a few points each but will not be advancing to the next stage.
Apart from Manchester City, the group is open for business. There are Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb, the champions of the Ukraine and Croatia, respectively. The final team is Atalanta, which qualified for the competition for the first time since its rebranding in 1992.
There is not much more that needs to be said about the talent on Manchester City. The depth in the attack and midfield is one of the best in the world. The question this season is if they will be able to overcome the Champions League wounds to lift the trophy for the first time.
Shakhtar Donetsk has been a mainstay in the competition the last 10 seasons. The team does not focus on one player; all players know their roles.
Dinamo Zagreb is similar to Shakhtar but is not as talented. They have a die-hard support system and will make noise all the way to a spot in the Europa League come December.
Atalanta is the question mark of the group. How will they react? How do they weigh league games to continental games?
One thing that is not in question is talent. They have a strong attack with speed up the wing. The danger man in the middle is Gomez, the captain of the club.
The final group in part one is going to be fun for the neutrals. There are two teams that could win the entire thing if they wanted: Juventus and Atletico Madrid. The other two are by no means easy in Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.
First is Juventus. They added new head coach Maurizio Sarri and their only loss over the summer was Moise Kean going to Everton. They added the best young defender in the world in Matthijs de Ligt.
The free transfers is where they won the most. They added Aaron Ramsey, Adrien Rabiot and the return of Gianluigi Buffon.
Atletico lost some of their best players in Antoine Griezmann, Hernandez and Rodri. The plan was quite obvious for fans that the club was going to rebuild for the future.
They decided to dish out $143 million on Joao Felix, a young attacking midfielder. The team did not have to pay anything out of pocket with Griezmann and Rodri combining to bring in $228 million.
Bayer Leverkusen have the same team as last year and are led by Leon Bailey on the wing. They also have Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender in the back. They will not cause the most damage but will cause trouble on the counter attack.
Lokomotiv Moscow has one of the underrated midfielders in the competition. Between Grzegorz Krychowiak and Joao Mario, they could pick up a surprising win.
Tune in Thursday when the final groups are previewed, and more global giants await their fate and their chance at victory in the world’s top competition.