The UEFA Champions League is set to return with the draws for the group stage held yesterday, Thursday, 25, 2022, in Istanbul, Turkey. The die is cast with Group C tipped as the group of death. No matter how fierce the war is, a survivor must always be. Who is likely to make it out of group stages?
The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League Group stages matches kick off on September 6, 2022. The battle line is drawn with two teams set to qualify for Round 16 as usual. Although surprises and periodic upsets may be expected, as usual, some teams may not fail to make it out of the group stages based on their pedigree and records in the tournament.
Group A has last year’s finalist and 2019 Champions Liverpool, alongside Dutch giants Ajax, Scottish giants Rangers, and Serie A side Napoli. This is a tricky tie. Jurgen Klopp will be expected to make it to the next round of the competition, but it will not be an easy tie. Dutch Champions Ajax are no pushovers. They are 4 times winners of the competition and are one of the few clubs to win it 3 times in a row. They made it to the Semi-finals of the competition eliminating European giants Real Madrid and Juventus before losing on aggregate to Tottenham. Napoli has won the competition once and are regulars in the group stage. Rangers’ best Champions League outing is the semi-finals. They made it to the Europa League finals last year.
This group will be a tough one for all the contenders, but 6 times winners and last year’s finalist is expected to progress, with either Ajax or Napoli joining them. Rangers are more likely to struggle in the group.
This group has Porto, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, and Club Brugge. The group can be referred to as the group of moderates. Although their influence has diminished recently, Porto are giant in the competition. They have won 2 UEFA Champions League titles and 2 Europa league trophies, including the Super Cup. Atletico Madrid have reached the final 3 times without winning it. Bayern Leverkusen and Club Brugge may have to slog it out for a Europa League spot. Atletico Madrid and Porto are tipped to make it out of this group.
This group can be termed the group of death in the competition. The top three clubs in this group are regulars and past competition winners and are giants in their respective leagues. Bayern Munich are 6 times winners, Barcelona are 5 times winners Inter Milan are 3 times winners; Pizen are yet to win the competition. Obviously, the battle for qualification to the next stage will be between the three giants in the competition. Barcelona fell to make it out of the group stage last year, but the club has undergone a revamp. Despite a good record in the Champions League, Inter Milan has not been impressive in the group stages recently. Bayern Munich and Barcelona will be expected to make it to the next round of the competition.
This group has last year’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt, 2016 finalists Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting CP, and Olympique Marseille. Except for sporting CP, all three other contenders were European club competition finalists. Tottenham and Eintracht Frankfurt have both won the Europa League 2 times. Marseille have won the Champions League but is a relatively obscure team in modern European club competitions. Tottenham is expected to make it to the next round, while it will be very dicey between Frankfurt, Marseille, and Sporting CP.
Group E features AC Milan, Chelsea, Salzburg, and Dinamo Zagreb. Without much ado, pundits will quickly give it to AC Milan and Chelsea. Both clubs are top sides in their domestic leagues and have won the competition before. However, Salzburg is an Austrian giant and is now regular in the competition. They can pull an upset. Nevertheless, AC Milan and Chelsea are still expected to make it to the next round of the competition, given their pedigree.
Except for defending Champions and 14 times winners Real Madrid, Group F is a group of death for the other three contenders – Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Celtic. Celtic have won the competition in the 1966/67 season when it was known as the European cup. Leipzig made their first Champions League appearance in the 2017/2018 season and have since become regulars. Shakhtar Donetsk are regulars but have not won the competition yet. Real Madrid will be expected to progress to the next round, while it will be a tricky tie for the other three, with RB Leipzig having a slight advantage.
Modern heavyweights of the game, Manchester City, will battle it out with Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, and FC Copenhagen. Pep Guardiola’s men are expected to cruise pass their opponents as usual and make it to the next round. Dortmund and Sevilla will battle for the second spot. Devil’s and Borussia Dortmund have played four matches, two draws, and two wins. Copenhagen made it through the preliminaries. Based on the stats, they are the least in the group. Making it to the next round will be likened to an upset of the century.
PSG, Juventus, Benfica, and Maccabi Haifa are all bundled into group G. PSG have not failed to make through to the next round of the competition and will certainly qualify to the next round. Benfica have won the competition 2 times and will likely challenge Juventus for the second place. Juventus have won it 2 times, including 3 Europa League titles.