Champions League: favourites, groups, outsiders… What you should know about the C1 group stage

Champions League: favourites, groups, outsiders... What you should know about the C1 group stage

The European summits are back and they will start with an appetizing PSG-Juventus, on Tuesday, September 6, in the Parc des Princes. Unlike in years past, the matches will be linked from week to week due to the start of the World Cup on November 20. Before starting the final phase in February, the 32 participants in this 2022-2023 edition of the Champions League will thus know if they will participate in the round of 16 of the competition at the beginning of November. Franceinfo: sport takes stock.

Favorites: an ambitious quintet

It is never easy at the beginning of the season, especially when the World Cup takes place in the middle of it and will surely affect the dynamics of certain teams, to determine with certainty the favorites from one competition to the next. A little less than a year ago, when the 2021-2022 edition of the Champions League was about to start, Real Madrid did not appear, thus, among the candidates for the final victory.

The meringues finally won the last edition of C1, on May 28, and they are obviously the favorites this season, always led by a Karim Benzema to whom the Ballon d’Or seems promised. Finalist of the last edition, Liverpool is also a candidate for the title. In difficulties at the start of the season in the league, Jürgen Klopp’s Reds will, however, have to count on the return of their injured players (Thiago Alcantara, Ibrahima Konaté).

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Liverpool’s rival in the Premier League, Manchester City, meanwhile, wants to overcome the curse and win the Champions League for the first time in its history. Pep Guardiola, who joined the Citizens in 2016, has not yet managed to fulfill this priority mission but should be able to count on an exceptional Erling Haaland at the start of the season.

With their trio of stars (Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi) in great form since recovery, Paris Saint-Germain can dream big. Always, like Manchester City, to defeat the Indian sign and not be cruelly and prematurely eliminated. Finally, Bayern Munich look, as they have done for several years, particularly well equipped to aim for a title won by the Bavarian club for the last time in 2020. To do so, Julian Nagelsmann’s team will have to defeat in the group stage to two clubs. who act as outsiders: Barcelona and Inter Milan.

The outsiders: Chelsea, Barcelona, ​​Italian clubs…

Chelsea, winner of the competition in 2021, is obviously one of the teams likely to win the competition. But the Blues, it seems, have lost their shine and are having a rocky start to the Premier League season. In particular, they will have to get rid of AC Milan during the group stage. The club from the Lombard city, Inter Milan and Juventus will hope to do well, as Italian teams have struggled to stand out in C1 in recent seasons (no Italian club qualified for the quarter-finals in the last two editions). ).

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Eliminated in the group stage last year, FC Barcelona will also have a say after being considerably strengthened during the transfer market. The Catalan club, last winner of the Champions League in 2015, will have a lot to do in their group to qualify for the round of 16 of the competition.

The composition of the groups: group C of death, group A of the romantics

Of the eight groups in this first phase, group C is without a doubt the toughest: Viktoria Plzen expects to experience difficult games against Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Inter Milan. Group A, for its part, will give a place of honor to fans of romanticism in football, with environments that promise to boil at the Johann Cruyff stadium (Ajax), Anfield (Liverpool), at the Diego Maradona stadium ( Naples) and at Ibrox Stadium (Rangers).

In Group D, Olympique de Marseille avoided the worst. Facing Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting Portugal and Tottenham, Igor Tudor’s men have every chance of trying to win one of the coveted round of 16 tickets. Authors of an excellent start to the season (five wins and one draw), the Marseilles must, however, confirm at European level, which has not been the case in their previous campaigns (only one win in their last 18 games in this competition ).

Note in Group H, that of Paris Saint-Germain, the participation of Maccabi Haifa. The Israeli club returns to the Champions League for the first time since the 2009-2010 season. The Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, classified for the sixth consecutive year in the Champions League, will play its home games in Warsaw (Poland).

The originally Donbass-based club has been playing in Kyiv for several years due to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. With the beginning of the war, on February 24, UEFA ordered the relocation of the European Cup matches of the Ukrainian clubs, and the exclusion of the Russian clubs, absent from this group stage of C1.

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