Braggssports takes on “The UEFA Champions League is back today” as the Champions League returns today with some galactico Head-To-Head.
Few things in life can make a grown man cry, and the UEFA Champions league anthem has proven over time to be one of them. And who can blame those who succumb to tears. The emotions felt when you step onto the field for your favorite team under the bright lights as the sonorous tune of the Champions league anthem plays out would be very difficult to put into words.
Bayern Munich will undoubtedly be the name on everyone’s lips after they conquered Europe by winning all their games in a very disrespectful manner to their opponents. This year they will be in Group A and kick off their campaign against Atletico Madrid.
Robert Lewandowski, last seasons tops scorer and best player of the competition will be kicking of alongside Gnabry, Davies and new signing Sané. With other veterans in the rank like Neuer and Muller. They are going into this game and competition as massive favorites as well.
Atletico Madrid will be going at the Alianz Arena with new signing Luis Suarez. He will be facing a side with very clear memories of what impacted his move out of Catalonia few weeks ago. Atletico have made it out of the group stage almost every time in the past years with the ever energetic Diego Simeone, and reaching the Final twice before being knocked out by Real Madrid in both finals.
Also in Group A are the Austrian champions RB Salzburg who will face the Russians Lokomotive Moscow. Both teams will square up at the Red Bull Arena tonight. RB Salzburg need badly to shake off their start if they are to make any headway in a quietly difficult group.
Last year’s beaten finalists PSG face familiar foes Manchester United on their first match in Group H. The last time these clubs met was in the Knock out stages few years back at the Park Des Princes. PSG were humbled at the their own stadium and failed to trouble the Red Devils, with a last minute dramatic penalty from Rashford making it 2-3. Which took Manchester United to the next stage after a 0-2 home loss at Old Trafford.
PSG’s highest ever goal scorer who just signed for Manchester United won’t be travelling at the park the prince tonight. The Red Devils will also be without their captain, who is a key component of their defensive unit in Harry Maguire. As for the Parisians, Marco Verratti has been ruled out, with information being uphold yet.
Also in Group H, the Turkish Champions Basaksehir travel to Germany to face RB Leipzig(Last year’s semi finalists), in their opening fixture and will be hoping to avoid more opening day away heartaches as most new comers.
They will be buoyed by their away form in their league. With the likes of Demba Ba, Gaël Clichy etc the Turkish might use their experienced players to try and take something back to Turkey.
Champions league returnees Lazio Rome and the European golden shoe Ciro Immobile will be one of the headlining acts of Group F where they will face Dortmund, Zenit St Petersburg and Club Brugge. On the last occasion that they faced any of these teams, they went on to crash out of the completion at the group stage and avoiding a repeat of this scenario would be paramount in the mind of the coach as he leads his team out onto the Stadio Olympico to face Borussia Dortmund in their first game.
This summer’s most discussed signing Jason Sancho who finally stayed at Dortmund will be in the headlines alongside the night Norwagian target man Erling Haaland who already established his name in last seasons group stage with 8 goals. The Germans will be counting on him to kick start this seasons champions league just as he did for his former club RB Leipzig.
Top seeds and Rusian Champions Zenit St Petersburg host another champion from Belgium in Club Brugge and will be hoping to advance from the group stage for a group considered to be quite open to anyone.
Champions league debutants Ferencvarosi face a daunting trip to Camp Nou to face FC Barcelona as their reward for being the first Hungarian team to play for the group stages of the UCL.
Barcelona suffered a record breaking exit at the hands of Bayern Munich in the 8th round stage last season after following up with an even more improbable 8-2 loss. Thus becoming the first side to surrender a 8-2 massacre in a UCL knock out game. This could be the first Champions league game as manager for Ronald Koeman. He is expected to start with Leo Messi and co.
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Barcelona are the top seeded side in a group that also contains last season’s 8th finalists Juventus who start their campaign away to a tricky Dynamo Kiev. Who will be without their main man, the top scorer of the competition ever Cristiano Ronaldo.
They can however still call on the services of Swedish hitman Déjan Kulusevski as he will look to upset some of Europe’s big boys in the coming stages. Juve’s Spanish forward Morata will be having a chance to start as the new target man. Taking the place of the former Gonzalo Higuain.
Chelsea’s home and away humiliation of Bayern Munich ensured that they became the first English side to successfully navigate the UCL play off round since Arsenal. They begin their campaign at home to Sevilla, the Europa League Champions.
The Europa Champions don’t need to be reminded on their recent visit to England. It was abit of a late goal fest but this time at Old Trafford. Rakitic, Werner, Harvetz etc will all be making their Champions League debut with their new clubs.
French League 1 surprise package Stade Rennais will start probably their first ever Champions league campaign of the club. They play host to Russians from Krasnodar who were out of the blue performers from last seasons Russian league.
Rennes having lost a number of key players from last season, they have a new crop of fresh faces keen to impress while still having the likes of Edouardo Camavinga, Steven N’zonzi in their ranks.
On the other hand, the Russians will have an old gun of the French league, Rémy Cabella who’s going to try to impress his French compatriots in a well anticipated clash.
In Group C, Portuguese champions FC Porto travel to English soil to face Manchester City. With Aguero making his return after a long spell of injury will add a plus to their already stacked squad. Pep Guardiola is yet to win a Champions league trophy with the Citizens starting his 4th campaign with them. This is over all 9 years now. Will be mounting more pressure as expected.
In the same group, another Champions league returnee in Olympique de Marseille will be facing the ever welcoming Olympiacos at the famous Georgios Karaskakis stadium.
Another French player that will face his French compatriots will be Yann M’Vila. But all eyes will be at Mathieu Valbuena playing vs his boyhood club. Will certainly be quite emotional for him.
While Liverpool opens its CL game with a trip to the Netherlands gates to face the last two years Champions League semi finalists-Ajax at the Yoan Cruyff Arena. Their visitors are the current English champions who themselves will be hoping to mount a reasonable challenge for the title. Liverpool are on the helm of missing key players like Van Dijk, Alisson Becker etc.
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Meanwhile, Atalanta Bergame last season’s surprise parkage will be travelling to Denmark to face the Danish champions Mytdjylland. Duvan Zapata has been the talisman for them for quite a while now. Alongside the ever resisting captain Alejandro Gomez.
In Group B, we’ll be having some interesting battle of titans from Inter Milan vs Borussia Monchengladbach. Inter Milan money spenders lately in the likes of Vidal, Hakimi, Naingolann, etc. Expecting Antonio Conte to be vocal on the touch line as always. Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez will certainly be the key components if Inter have a chance to come through in this game/group.
As for the Germans, they’re having quite a less expected start to the Bundesliga. Will be a massive opportunity to get things going from a well oiled game at the
Giuseppe Meazza stadium. Marcus Thuram, Gladbach’s highest goalscorer last season is going to probably play his first champions league game.
In the same group, Real Madrid are opening the Estádio Standiago Bernabéu with a farmiliar of the competition in Shakhtar Donetsk, the Ukrainian champions. The Ukrainians will be expecting to do the unexpected. Win at the Bernabéu, something they did back in 2015 in a dramatic 3-4 win.
Real Madrid have already written their name in UCL folklore and now it remains to be seen if their name will be scribbled on the famous trophy with big ears for the 14th time, a feat not achieved by any club. Or if it will be another team’s turn to write their own impossible UCL story.