The Champions League group stage draw on Thursday night threw up plenty of interesting match-ups, historic clashes and tantalising plotlines.
Liverpool face a tough test with a historic Battle of Britain against Rangers, fellow English sides Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City all have a good shot at topping the group, while Barcelona and Bayern clash in the ‘Group of Death’.
Below, Sportsmail columnist Chris Sutton talks you through all the runners and riders, provides you with some eye-opening statistics and tips his favourites for the competition.
The Champions League group stage draw on Thursday threw up plenty of interesting match-ups – including Manchester City’s Erling Haaland returning to former club Borussia Dortmund
Superstars Paris Saint-Germain always seem to find a way to stumble and have a tough group
Get ready for the Battle of Britain!
Scottish clubs have taken a few scalps over the years and Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side have shown, even in this year’s qualifiers, that they’re a good side.
They won’t fear facing Liverpool. They’ll relish it and Ryan Kent will want to show his boyhood club the progress he’s made.
Rangers will also face Calvin Bassey of Ajax – after the defender left them for the Dutch side in the summer.
FUN FACT: Liverpool have never played Rangers. Their only European Cup meeting with a Scottish side was a 5-0 win on aggregate against Sir Alex Ferguson’s Aberdeen in 1981.
Of all these teams, Atletico Madrid boast the most recognisable names. They’ve lost Luis Suarez but they’ve still got Joao Felix, Antoine Griezmann, Alvaro Morata and more. They’ve got that master of the dark arts, Diego Simeone, guiding them.
They’ll be confident of topping their group, but who finishes second is up for grabs.
Bayer Leverkusen have handy players, including Patrik Schick, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and the rapid Moussa Diaby.
FUN FACT: Atletico’s Diego Simeone is the longest-serving manager in the competition, having been there since 2011. This is their 10th consecutive year in the Champions League.
Penny for the thoughts of Viktoria Plzen goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek after finding out he’ll be facing Sadio Mane, Robert Lewandowski, Romelu Lukaku and Co.
The Czech minnows knew they’d have it hard, but this is cruel!
For anyone whose surname isn’t Stanek, this is a tasty group.
Barcelona have been busy this window and Lewandowski facing his old club Bayern Munich will be particularly fun to watch.
FUN FACT: Lewandowski will return to Bayern Munich with new club Barcelona in the group of death. The Polish striker scored 344 goals in 375 games for the Bavarian club.
What a chance for Tottenham.
Marseille is an interesting match-up because of their Arsenal connections. They’ve got Alexis Sanchez, Matteo Guendouzi, Sead Kolasinac and Nuno Tavares.
Premier League fans will recognise former West Ham favourite Dimitri Payet and Manchester United loanee Eric Bailly, too.
Frankfurt and Sporting aren’t pushovers, but Tottenham have every chance of topping this group.
FUN FACT: A favourable group for Tottenham, though they have never won at a French side in six attempts. Spurs will be Antonio Conte’s fourth club managed in this competition.
Thomas Tuchel will be pleased with this draw. He’ll be worrying more about Chelsea’s lack of consistency than these opponents.
The Blues should be topping this group. RB Salzburg nurture talent, and Dinamo Zagreb will give it a go.
But their greatest challenge will be AC Milan, who have nifty forwards in Olivier Giroud, Brahim Diaz and Ante Rebic. They also have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and super sub Divock Origi.
FUN FACT: Chelsea have never played a Croatian side, and it will also be their first meeting with Salzburg. They’ve won two of their last 11 Champions League games against Italian teams.
Celtic captain Callum McGregor said he’d love to draw champions Real Madrid and he’s got his wish. That’s the glamour tie. It will be interesting to see how Celtic handle the Champions League.
Ange Postecoglou’s side play the Manchester City way – they use inverted full-backs and take the game to other teams – but can they take a different approach?
Whatever happens, they’ll look to leave a few of these opponents with a bloody nose.
FUN FACT: Celtic last met Real Madrid in the 1980 quarter-finals. They beat RB Leipzig in the 2019 Europa League. Shakhtar will play home games in Warsaw, 937 miles from Donetsk.
The return of Erling Haaland. It had to happen, didn’t it?
He scored a barrel-load of goals for Borussia Dortmund and you wouldn’t bet against the Norwegian netting for Manchester City in front of that yellow wall that used to sing his name.
Sevilla are talented – they’ve got Isco, Erik Lamela and Ivan Rakitic, to name a few – but Pep Guardiola and City should be confident of topping this group and progressing to the last 16.
FUN FACT: A trio of decent away days for City fans, though it means they will rack up more air miles than any English club: City 5,400 miles, Spurs 4,800, Chelsea 4,550, Liverpool 4,450.
Will this be their year?
We ask that question every year of Paris Saint-Germain and yet this team of superstars always find a way to stumble and fall.
Juventus aren’t the footballing force they once were, although they’ve still got some great players including Paul Pogba, Angel Di Maria and Manuel Locatelli.
But once again, we’ll be asking whether Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe can finally fire PSG to Champions League glory.
FUN FACT: PSG look good under boss Christophe Galtier – who won Ligue 1 with Lille – scoring 17 goals in three games. Juve won nine straight titles but finished fourth in the last two seasons.
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