Friday, August 26, 2022

Premier League in Europe: Champions League Draw

The groups are set for Champions League group stage play which will commence September 6th. Thursday’s draw presented different storylines for the four Premier League clubs involved in the competition. Manchester City striker Erling Haaland will be facing his former club, Borussia Dortmund, though both clubs should survive a group which includes Sevilla and FC Copenhagen. Sevilla is expected to be weakened from recent seasons but could pose an outside threat. As with Manchester City, Liverpool should be the class of its group but will face tougher competition than the Citizens. Napoli and Ajax could both pose danger while scrappy Scottish side, Rangers, will be participating in the group stage for the first time in twelve years. Multiple title winners Chelsea and AC Milan will face each other in Europe’s top club competition for the first time since 1999 as Milan's 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovich could be making his final Champions League appearances. Joining Chelsea and the defending Italian titlists in group play will be FC Salzburg, making a fourth consecutive group stage appearance, and Dinamo Zagreb.

Tottenham Hotspur should have the easiest draw on paper as Manager Antonio Conte’s side have drawn Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting Lisbon, and Marseilles. Conte, however, has a poor record in the competition, winning just 12 of the 54 Champions League group stage matches his clubs have participated in. This will be Conte’s first foray with Spurs in Champions League after previously helming Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan in the competition.

The British clubs managed to avoid this year’s “Group of Death” which will includes European giants Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Inter Milan with tiny Viktoria Plzen helping to pad the records of the other three. A major storyline in this heavyweight group will be Barcelona’s Robert Lewandowski facing the club he long starred for in Bayern Munich.

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