The Champions League is back this week. Europe's elite will be in action vying to win the continent's most coveted trophy. Defending champions Real Madrid will be the team to beat as they look to lift the trophy for the third consecutive year, a feat not achieved since Bayern Munich in the 1970s. So how do the teams fare heading into the group stage?
Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, Basel, CSKA Moscow
Jose Mourinho will be a relived man having being placed in Group A. After a fantastic start in the Premier League, Manchester United should not have any problems making it past the group stages.
Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Sain-Germain Anderlecht, Celtic
With the world record signing of Neymar and the big money acquisition of Kylian Mbappe, PSG are in the hunt for the trophy that has eluded them so far. Five-time champion Bayern are never an easy team to beat, but both the giants should make it past the group stages comfortably.
Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, Qarabag
Premier League champions have been placed in a challenging group alongside Atletico and Roma. Chelsea will have to ensure they don’t slip up considering Atletico has reached the final twice in the past three years, losing both times to Real Madrid, while Roman will be no pushovers.
Group D: Juventus, Barcelona. Olympiakos, Sporting
It will be surprising to see anyone beyond Juventus and Barcelona, European champions a combined seven times getting past the group stage. They met in the 2015 final, where the later emerged victorious. Juventus also lost last season’s final to Real Madrid and haven’t wont the Champions League since 1996, a record Buffon and his boys are looking to set straight.
Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, Maribor
Five-time European champion Liverpool can breathe a sigh of relief having qualified through the playoffs. The reds from Merseyside should comfortably make it past the group stage and also have the chance to avenge their 2016 Europa League final loss to Sevilla.
Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City avoided tougher oppositions by being drawn into top-seeded Shakhtar’s group. However Napoli will be the difficult opponents for City in the playoffs round.
Group G: Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, Leipzig
Last season’s semifinalists Monaco are weakened by the departure of key players from the title winning squad but a bright start to their league campaign means they should ease past the group stage. The French team comes up against Porto in a rematch of the 2004 final won by the Portuguese team.
Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur, Apoel
The Group Of Death. 3 European heavyweights vying for the 2 spots. With defending champions Real Madrid most likely one of the Dortmund and Tottenham cannot afford to slip up.PSG and England’s elite have invested heavily in the transfer market this season and may be its time they provide value for money and win the champions league.