The Champions League group stage draw has taken place with Premier League clubs now learning their fates for 2019/20.
Holders Liverpool, last season’s finalists Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City have discovered who their group-stage opponents will be when Europe’s flagship tournament kick starts again next month.
Who awaits PL quartet? Four things to know…
- Liverpool: Napoli, Salzburg, Genk (Group E)
- Spurs: Bayern Munich, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade (Group B)
- Man City: Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta (Group C)
- Chelsea: Ajax, Valencia, Lille (Group H)
Reigning champions Liverpool were drawn into Group E and will face similar opponents in Napoli, who they clashed with last season, as well as Salzburg and Genk.
Man City meanwhile were the first English team to be drawn and were placed into Group C, with the Citizens competing against Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta.
Chelsea completed the Premier League clubs in pot one and were the final team to be drawn in the first phase, taking their place in Group H, with Frank Lampard’s side locking horns with Ajax, Valencia and Lille.
Finally Spurs were handed an ominous group and will take on Bayern Munich, Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade.
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Without further ado, here is the 2019/20 Champions League group stage draw in full:
Group A: Paris St-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Bruges, Galatasaray
Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade
Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta
Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow
Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk
Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague
Group G: Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig
Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille
When will the group stage fixtures be played?
Matchweek 1: 17-18 September
Matchweek 2: 1-2 October
Matchweek 3: 22-23 October
Matchweek 4: 5-6 November
Matchweek 5: 26-27 November
Matchweek 6: 10-11 December
Winners & Losers
Winner: Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has won every domestic trophy available to him in England; he has pretty much mastered these shores. The only piece of silverware missing from his Man City mantlepiece is the most sought-after gong in club football: the ‘Big Ears’ trophy.
The Champions League is the final frontier Guardiola must pioneer before he can say his work in the North West is done. His Etihad predecessors also boast, Premier League trophies, League Cup medals and FA Cup accomplishments, but none have been able to hand Sheikh Mansour the European glory he so desperately craves.
This season presents another fantastic opportunity for Guardiola to clinch his first Champions League medal in nearly a decade having been handed an extremely favourable draw (Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta), while the likes of Real Madrid, PSG, Barcelona and Bayern Munich have all been placed into groups with other heavyweight clubs – the Catalonian may very well have one eye of the Round of 16 already.
Loser: Lionel Messi
When Lionel Messi took the captain’s armband off Andres Iniesta last season, his first act was to give a speech in front of the Camp Nou stating his desire to end a four-year drought for Champions League glory and achieve continental dominance in his maiden campaign as skipper.
He announced: “We still have some unfinished business in the Champions League – more than anything – because of the way we were knocked out of the competition.”
The match Messi was alluding to was the famous Roma ‘remontada’ when the Italian club overcame a three goal deficit in the first leg of their 2017/18 quarter-final clash, beating Barca 3-0 at the Stadio Olimpico when Ernesto Valverde’s side looked destined to progress.
And well, they suffered an even more humiliating and quite ridiculous turnaround last season, as Liverpool smashed Messi and Co 4-0 at Anfield in the semi-finals having trailed by a 3-0 reversal in the first leg.
So, it’s safe to say that Messi will be on the hunt for redemption, looking to rectify the woes of recent times and bring the coveted trophy back to Catalonia. Unfortunately for the Argentine, Barca were drawn into this season’s ‘group of death’ facing Borussia Dortmund and an Antonio Conte-led Inter Milan.
Winner: Jurgen Klopp
Last season Liverpool were made to sweat in the group stages, facing daunting tasks against PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade, and only advancing to the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth.
This time round as the Merseysiders look to regain their crown, the Reds have been handed a less ominous group, facing Napoli once more, but replacing the Parisians with Salzburg as well as Genk.
On paper the task appears straight forward enough for the German tactician, and who knows, he may even be tempted to rotate his squad and hand a few youngster some precious minutes having avoided most of the continent’s tycoon clubs.
Loser: Frank Lampard
Despite Spurs having Bayern Munich and Liverpool having Napoli in their respective groups, Chelsea arguably have the toughest of all four English clubs, as Frank Lampard faces last season’s semi-finalists and two titans from Europe’s top five leagues.
Ajax, in spite of losing talismanic duo Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, are still a considerable threat, and have spent wisely this summer with some very serious names, including Razvan Marin, Quincy Promes and Edson Alvarez, not to mention keeping hold of Donny van de Beek, David Neres and Hakim Ziyech.
Meanwhile Lille were nothing short of exceptional last season as they finished runners-up in Ligue 1, and like Ajax, despite losing key players in Thiago Mendes, Rafael Leao and Nicolas Pepe, they have signed no fewer than 13 players to remedy those voids, while Jonathan Ikone was recently called up to the France squad – they will be a substantial threat.
Finally, Valencia are an habitual Champions League club and have brought in some big names this summer with Maxi Gomez and Jasper Cillessen pitching up at the Mestalla.
It’s safe to say Lampard won’t have the luxury of resting players or blooding in youngsters to the same degree as Klopp here as every game poses a significant threat in his first season in the European dugout.