Special guests Joe Cole and Eric Abidal did the honors at the UEFA Champions League Group Stage draw in the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco. The event was attended by all participating clubs’ representatives, who, like the rest of the football world, were anxious to learn who their opponents would be in this autumn’s group stage. This will be the last time that 32 clubs aspire to reach the final, which will be held in legendary Wembley Stadium on 1 June 2024, as next season the tournament’s format will change completely.
If you watched the draw and were surprised that certain teams could not be drawn into certain groups despite the fact that no other teams from their association were there, then that is because of a rule that does not allow more than two teams from the same association to have TV broadcasts on the same day (several other conditions are added to this as well). Then there is the issue of Milan and Inter both playing home matches at the same stadium (San Siro), which adds to the confusion. But in the end I believe that the draw was done justly and that the computer did not make a mess of things.
That said, there is one group that stands out among the rest. It is not the typical “group of death” where three teams are strong while the fourth is weak — This group has four teams that have every chance of winning: PSG, Dortmund, AC Milan and Newcastle. That’ll be exciting for neutral fans but tough on those teams (and fantasy managers like us)!
Here are all of the groups; note that Union Berlin and Antwerp are debutantes.
Sevilla, Arsenal , PSV Eindhoven and Lens
Napoli, Real Madrid, SC Braga and Union Berlin*
Benfica, Inter Milan, Salzburg and Real Sociedad
Feyenoord , Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Celtic
PSG, Dortmund, AC Milan and Newcastle
Man City, RB Leipzig, Crvena Zvezda and Young Boys
Barcelona, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk and Antwerp*
* First time playing in the UCL