the favorites, the groups, the outsiders… What you need to know about the C1 group stage

the favorites, the groups, the outsiders… What you need to know about the C1 group stage

The European summits are back and they will start with an enticing PSG-Juventus, Tuesday September 6, at the Parc des Princes. Unlike in past years, the meetings will be linked from one week to the next 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 in early November. Franceinfo: sport takes stock.

Favorites: an ambitious quintet

It is never easy at the start of the season, especially when the World Cup is held in the middle of it and will certainly affect the dynamics of certain teams, to determine with certainty the favorites from one competition to the next. advance. 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 Merengues finally won the last edition of the C1, on May 28, and are obviously the favorites this season, always carried 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 difficulty at the start of the season in the league, the Reds of Jürgen Klopp will however have to count on the return of their injured (Thiago Alcantara, Ibrahima Konaté).

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

With its trio of stars – Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi – in great shape since the recovery, Paris Saint-Germain can dream big. Provided, like Manchester City, to defeat the Indian sign and not to be eliminated cruelly and prematurely. Finally, Bayern Munich seem, as they have for several years, particularly well equipped to aim for a title won by the Bavarian club for the last time in 2020. For this, Julian Nagelsmann’s team will have to defeat in the group stage of two clubs that act as outsiders: Barcelona and Inter Milan.

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

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

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Eliminated from 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

Among the eight groups of this first phase, C is undoubtedly the toughest: Viktoria Plzen expects to experience complicated matches against Bayern Munich, FC Barcelona and Inter Milan. Group A, for its part, will give pride of place to fans of romanticism in football, with atmospheres that promise to be boiling at the Johann Cruyff Stadium (Ajax), at 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 to try to win one of the precious tickets for the round of 16. Authors of an excellent start to the season (five wins and a draw), the Marseillais will however have to confirm on the European level, which has not been the case during their previous campaigns (a single victory 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. Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk, qualified for the sixth consecutive year in the Champions League, will play its home matches in Warsaw (Poland).

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

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