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The Champions League is back

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Thirty-two teams, eight groups, a total of 48 games, followed by 29 to determine who will lift the trophy on June 1, 2024, at the New Wembley Stadium. The 2023-24 Champions League kicked off after the draw for the tournament’s group stage was conducted on August 31, 2023, at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.

The 32 qualified teams have now been divided into eight groups of four and must begin their journey by the end, of which only one will get to be crowned as the King of Europe. Like every season, we have been provided with some mouth-watering clashes, with some groups boasting three strong teams that have the capability to progress to the round of 16.

The group stages will begin on September 19 and end on December 13, 2023. Following this, the league will go on a long break before the knockout round will start on February 13, 2024. The quarter-finals will be held from April 9-17, followed by the semi-final from April 30-May 8, 2024.

Group A- Bayern Munich, Manchester United, FC Copenhagen, Galatasaray

The first group comprises German champions Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Danish champions FC Copenhagen, and Turkish champions Galatasaray.

Last season was far from perfect for the Bavarians as they just managed to retain their Bundesliga title after a slip-up by Borussia Dortmund on the final matchday. However, the club have strengthened themselves over the summer with signings such as Harry Kane, Min Jae Kim, and Konrad Laimer.

Manchester United have also done a lot of rebuilding, but injuries and loss of form mean they have been far from perfect. However, the team has enough talent to sneak into second place ahead of Galatasaray and Copenhagen.

Teams Qualifying: Bayern Munich, Manchester United 

Europa League: Galatasaray

Group B- Sevilla, Arsenal, PSV Eindhoven, RC Lens

Europa League champions were drawn into Group B alongside Premier League runners-up Arsenal, PSV Eindhoven, and RC Lens.

Arsenal marked their return to the competition in style by finishing second in the league behind Manchester City. Meanwhile, PSV Eindhoven finished second behind champions Feyenoord in the Eredivisie. While on paper, Arsenal and Sevilla look favorites, Lens last season proved that they could go toe-to-toe with the best when they only lost the Ligue 1 title by one point.

However, experience has always been invaluable in this tournament, which will ultimately help Arsenal and Sevilla sneak through to the next round, finishing first and second, respectively.

Teams Qualifying: Arsenal, Sevilla 

Europa League: RC Lens

Group C- Napoli, Real Madrid, SC Braga, Union Berlin

Italian champions Napoli are joined by Spanish royalty Real Madrid, SC Braga, and rising German powerhouse Union Berlin. Last season, Napoli just blew every time apart by playing a sensational brand of attacking football. Meanwhile, Real Madrid have already proven that even at their worst, they are a team that can always surprise in the Champions League.

The addition of Jude Bellingham has already made the Los Blancos dangerous, and it looks highly unlikely that Braga and Union Berlin will manage to change that.

Teams Qualifying: Real Madrid, Napoli 

Europa League: Union Berlin

Group D- SL Benfica, Inter Milan, RB Salzburg, Real Sociedad

Group D is perhaps the most equal of groups, with all four teams having a chance to qualify for the next round. This group comprises Portuguese champions Benfica, Inter Milan, Austrian champions RB Salzburg, and the new rising star Real Sociedad.

All these teams have the players, coaches, and the tactical system to qualify for the next round. However, such is the close competition that it is tough to predict the top two places.

In the absence of substantial data, one has to take into account the experience in the competition where Inter Milan and Benfica might prove their mettle ahead of Salzburg and Real Sociedad.

Teams Qualifying: Inter Milan, SL Benfica 

Europa League: Real Sociedad

Group E- Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Celtic

Dutch champions Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, and Scottish champions Celtic makeup Group E of the Champions League. Much like Group D, this group looks competitive for the second place, with Atletico Madrid clear favorites to finish as group toppers.

From the other three teams, Feyenoord and Lazio have got a far better squad than Celtic. However, Lazio play in a far more competitive league than the Dutch champions, which might help them pip Feyenoord to second place behind Atletico Madrid.

Teams Qualifying: Atletico Madrid, Lazio 

Europa League: Feyenoord

Group F- PSG, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, Newcastle United 

French champions PSG, Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, and Newcastle United make up Group F, which can also be dubbed as the ‘Group of Death.’ It will be a shame that one of these teams will go into the Europa League and will crash out of Europe entirely. Such is the brilliance of all four teams.

Despite losing Neymar and Lionel Messi, PSG have the best squad that will help them top the group. However, predicting who will take second place is much trickier. Newcastle United showed last season that on their day, they can destroy the best of teams, but Dortmund and Milan can do that and, in addition, also have more experience in the Champions League. And if a team like PSG are yet to win the tournament even after substantial investment, expect the same road for Newcastle United, who will drop into the Europa League. At the same time, Milan will finish bottom of the group.

Teams Qualifying: PSG, Borussia Dortmund 

Europa League: Newcastle United

Group G- Manchester City, RB Leipzig, FK Crvena zvezda, Young Boys

Defending champions Manchester City are in Group G along with RB Leipzig, Serbian champions FK Crvena zvezda, and Swiss champions Young Boys.

There is nothing much to ponder in this group, and until a miracle takes place, City will top the group, followed by RB Leipzig. FK Crvena zvezda won the tournament in 1991, but Young Boys have played more in recent years, which will help them finish third.

Teams Qualifying: Manchester City, RB Leipzig 

Europa League: Young Boys

Group H- Barcelona, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Royal Antwerp

Spanish champions Barcelona and Porto, Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, and Belgian champions Royal Antwerp round up the final group of the 2023-24 Champions League. Barcelona have suffered some painful losses in recent years. However, winning the La Liga title has given them a massive boost of confidence, and with their talent, expect them to finish top of the group.

Porto have the second-best squad in the group and, over the years, have made it several times to the knockout round, which is likely to be the case this season as well, while Shakhtar take the drop to the Europa League.

Teams Qualifying: Barcelona, Porto 

Europa League: Shakhtar Donetsk 

 

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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