Preview: Champions League set to start most difficult group stage


Picture Supply : PTI

Juventus ahead Cristiano Ronaldo just lately examined COVID-19 constructive whereas on nationwide obligation with Portugal.

As a second wave of coronavirus circumstances hits Europe, the Champions League goes to once more ship elite gamers crisscrossing the continent.

However soccer’s greatest membership competitors has a back-up plan to make sure the group stage might be accomplished, even when there’s a delay brought on by the pandemic.

The fast-track schedule will start Tuesday, one month later than regular. The plan is for 32 groups to every play six video games in solely 50 days, ending by Dec. 9. However with COVID-19 infections spiking throughout Europe, and Cristiano Ronaldo amongst a number of present circumstances at Italian champion Juventus, UEFA will let video games be made up by a Jan. 28 deadline.

Preserving all the competitors on schedule will even defend a prize fund of two billion euros ($2.Three billion).

GROUP A

Defending champion Bayern Munich and battle-tested Atlético Madrid are robust favourites to advance from Group A.

Robert Lewandowski, voted UEFA’s greatest participant in Europe final season, has began this season by scoring at a goal-a-game ratio for the German membership. Atlético added Luis Suarez, who fell out of favour at Barcelona.

Salzburg impressed in its Champions League debut final season below American coach Jesse Marsch, however the membership has since offered its three predominant forwards, together with Erling Haaland to Borussia Dortmund.

Lokomotiv Moscow, the Russian league runner-up, completed final in its group previously two seasons.

GROUP B

Actual Madrid has by no means didn’t advance from the group stage and is seeking to do it for the 24th straight season.

The document 13-time European champions lead a gaggle with maybe essentially the most depth in high quality.

Shakhtar Donetsk reached the Europa League semifinals in August, however the Ukrainian membership was routed by present group opponent Inter Milan 5-Zero. That was a part of Romelu Lukaku’s streak of scoring in eight straight European video games.

Madrid will play residence video games at its tiny coaching floor whereas no followers are allowed into Spanish venues. The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is being renovated.

Shakhtar will play in Kyiv amid its seventh season of exile from Russian-backed battle in Donetsk.

GROUP C

Pep Guardiola will likely be attempting to guide Manchester Metropolis to its first title within the competitors for the fifth time — in a season wherein the membership was initially banned from enjoying.

Guardiola will go up in opposition to three Portuguese coaches.

Marseille coach André Villas-Boas made his repute at Porto, capping a treble-winning debut season in 2011 by successful the Europa League on the age of 33. Sérgio Conceição led Porto to a home double and now a 24th look within the group stage. And Olympiakos, coached by Pedro Martins, gained its first Greek league title in three years and is within the group stage for the 20th time.

GROUP D

Liverpool leads a gaggle ideally shaped for hipster analysts and lovers of pure, attacking soccer.

Liverpool and Ajax have mixed for 10 European titles since they final met within the competitors in 1966.

Like Ajax’s run to the semifinals two seasons in the past, Atalanta was a revelation final season earlier than dropping to Paris Saint-Germain on two late objectives within the quarterfinals.

Danish membership Midtjylland is one other debutant. The membership was created solely 21 years in the past and has a repute for administration choices based mostly on statistical evaluation.

GROUP E

The previous two Europa League champions and two extra newcomers with very completely different histories will compete in Group E.

Sevilla and Chelsea have gained six of the previous eight Europa League titles, and Chelsea additionally gained the Champions League in 2012.

Chelsea strengthened its squad for this season by shopping for Rennes’ goalkeeper Édouard Mendy final month.

Rennes has stored gifted France midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, who on the age of 17 is older than the Krasnodar membership.

Krasnodar was based solely in 2008 — 107 years after Rennes — however certified to enter UEFA competitions in every of the previous six seasons.

GROUP F

As champion of Russia, Zenit St. Petersburg is the top-seeded staff in Group F regardless of inserting final in its group final 12 months.

Dortmund and its fleet of younger attackers — together with Haaland and 17-year-old American Giovanni Reyna — ought to begin because the favorites.

Lazio is again after a 12-year absence with some of the numerous squads, together with gamers from at the very least 12 non-Italian nations.

Membership Brugge can be within the group.

GROUP G

The primary match between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi is scheduled for Oct. 28, when Juventus hosts Barcelona. The return match is on Dec. eight.

Barcelona has superior to the knockout spherical in 16 straight seasons, whereas Juventus has for the previous six.

Ferencváros is the lowest-ranked of the 32 groups within the competitors, at the moment at No. 118 in UEFA’s record. Tuesday’s sport at Barcelona is the membership’s first in a Champions League group in 25 seasons, and the primary for a Hungarian staff since 2009.

Ferencváros coach Serhiy Rebrov was accountable for Dynamo Kyiv in 2016 when the Ukrainian membership performed its solely knockout video games within the final 20 years.

Dynamo is now coached by 75-year-old Mircea Lucescu, a Champions League common throughout his 12 years at Shakhtar.

GROUP H

Edinson Cavani was enjoying for Paris Saint-Germain when his new membership, Manchester United, final gained a sport within the Champions League.

The groups meet once more on Tuesday at Parc des Princes, the place a stoppage-time penalty for United in March 2019 eradicated PSG within the spherical of 16.

Additionally reunited are PSG and Leipzig after their semifinal match in August, gained by the French champions Three-Zero.

Turkish champion Istanbul Başakşehir begins its first group marketing campaign after slumping to final in its league and failing to attain in 4 video games.

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