The most exciting competition and the battle for the most desired trophy is back; the Champions League is back. It seems like yesterday when Azpilicueta lifted the second title for Chelsea. It has been three months since then and we now know the group stages of a new edition that is expected to be one of the most amazing ones of the last few years.
Historical trades in the transfer market, the controversial Super League, the anxious return of fans to the stadiums and even the away goals rule abolition in the rounds from this season on. The essence of football recovers his brilliance.
In a year where LaLiga seems to have lost talent in benefit of other European competitions like the Ligue 1 or the Premier League, which continues its dominance, the group stage draw gives us the opportunity along the path to enjoy of two games between Manchester City and PSG, which means a more than likely duel between Guardiola versus Messi, Neymar and Ramos.
However, despite the decrease of the level that the Spanish league might have experienced, we once again count on five teams in this Champions League edition. Not bad for all the negativity going around. Yes indeed, it will not be easy. The path is long and the competitiveness has increased. Here you can read an analysis of the groups for Atlético de Madrid, Villarreal, Barcelona, Sevilla and Real Madrid.
Atlético de Madrid:
The directing staff from both Atlético and Villarreal traveled to Istanbul being aware of the fact that they could get a dangerous group or, at least, with some uncomfortable opponents, which is what has ended up happening. The Wanda Metropolitano Stadium will host Milan, Porto and Liverpool. Even though they are all difficult games, specially the trip to Anfield where they want to take revenge, the squad of Cholo Simeone is a solid candidate, along with Liverpool, to make it to the round of 16 without too much trouble.
If Liverpool want to take revenge, Manchester United feel the same way about Villarreal. The ‘Yellow Submarine’ will take again o the ‘Red Devils’ still with Poland in their thoughts. They might be the Spanish team that can neglect the less, as Atalanta and Young Boys are two clubs with experience in Europe that can take key points away regarding to advancing the next round. However, the squad of Unai Emery have proved that they can compete against anyone and they have strengthened themselves properly for the season.
The revenge and the reunion have prevailed in this group stage draw. Barcelona and Bayern will meet with each other again after the historical humiliation in 2020. This time without Messi, Barça are going through a long rebuild process and so they are not the favorites to lead the group.
Sevilla have been the most likely Spanish team along with Real Madrid. The first ones will take on Lille, which have not started their season the right way and Salzburg and Wolfsburg, which are a step behind. However, there is not margin error and the return of fans will add difficulties when playing on the road.
Real Madrid, Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk meet again in the group stage just like last season. The surprise team from Moldova, Sheriff Tiraspol, are the fourth member. Madrid can be very happy with their draw, but we must remember what happened last year, which makes us believe that Ancelotti does not want to experience it again. Madrid´s goal must be the first spot, as they count on a great opportunity to have a nice path to make it far like in the last edition.
Spanish football is not going through their best moment in the Champions League, but we know the magic of this competition. Of course it will be complicated, but not impossible. The five teams now know their opponents and they all have the level to advance to the round of 16. Let´s enjoy the path.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.