2019-20 UEFA Champions League: Marquee matches in the group stage and predictions
Following the group-stage draw for the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League which features nine past winners of the competition, here are some of the marquee matches that are scheduled to take place and are sure to light up the group stage.
Paris St. Germain (France); Real Madrid (Spain); Club Brugge (Belgium); Galatasaray (Turkey).
Brief Preview: Record thirteen-time winners Real Madrid are the only competition winners in this group. The Spanish club were eliminated by Ajax in the Round of 16 last season, following three consecutive title-winning campaigns.
In nine previous meetings with Paris Saint-Germain, Real have won four, drawn two and lost three. Real and Brugge haven't met in the competition since the 1976 season. In their seven meetings with Galatasaray, Real have won four and lost three.
Marquee Match: Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid.
Madrid won their last two meetings in the 2017-18 Round of 16.
Prediction for top two: Madrid and PSG.
Bayern Munich (Germany); Tottenham Hotspur (England); Olympicacos (Greece); Crvena Zvezda (Serbia).
Brief Preview: This group features two former winners - Bayern (1974-76, 2001, 2013) and Crvena Zvezda (1991). Bayern were eliminated by eventual winners Liverpool in the Round of 16 last season. Tottenham were the runners-up last season against Liverpool. Crvena made their only group stage appearance in the Champions League era last season.
Marquee Match: Bayern vs Tottenham.
Prediction for top two: Bayern and Tottenham.
Manchester City (England);Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine); Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia); Atalanta (Italy).
Brief Preview: This group features no former winners of the competition. English champions Manchester City would be favourites to win this group. Serie A club Atalanta are the group stage debutants. English champions City were eliminated by Tottenham in the quarterfinals last season.
Marquee match: Manchester City vs Shakhtar Donetsk.
Prediction for top two: Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Juventus (Italy); Atletico de Madrid (Spain); Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Germany); Lokomotiv Moskva (Russia).
Brief Preview: Juventus (1985, 1996) are the only former winners of the competition in this group. Atletico Madrid (1974, 2015, 2016) and Leverkusen (2002) are former runners-up in the competition, Competition top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo (126 goals) has scored against 52 different clubs but has never faced Leverkusen and Lokomotiv.
Marquee match: Juventus vs Atletico de Madrid.
These two clubs have recent history between them, having met in the Round of 16 last year. Atletico led 2-0 from the first leg at home, only for a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick in the second leg carrying the Bianconeri through to the last eight where they were eliminated by Ajax.
Prediction for top two: Juventus and Atletico de Madrid.
Liverpool (England); SSC Napoli (Italy); Salzburg (Austria); Genk (Belgium).
Brief Preview: Defending champions and six-time winners Liverpool (1977-78, 1981, 1984, 2005, 2019) are the only competition winners in this group. Liverpool have not faced Genk or Salzburg before.
Marquee match: Liverpool vs SSC Napoli.
Liverpool and Napoli renew acquaintance after meeting in the group stage last year, where they traded solitary-goal home wins en-route to Liverpool finishing second in the group behind PSG and Napoli narrowly missing out on second spot owing to an inferior goal difference.
Prediction for top two: Liverpool and SSC Napoli.
Barcelona (Spain); Borussia Dortmund (Germany); Internazionale (Italy); Slavia Praha (Czech Republic).
Brief Preview: Five-time champions Barcelona (1992, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2015), three-time champions Internazionale (1964, 1965, 2010) and Borussia Dortmund (1997) are the former competition winners in the group, amassing nine titles among them. On paper it is the toughest of the three groups. Borussia Dortmund fell short in the 2013 final against Bayern Munich while Barcelona's last title in the competition in 2015 was part of their second 'treble' of league, league cup and European Cup.
Barca have never met Slavia in European competition while the five-time champions' last European meeting with Dortmund was in the 1998 UEFA Super Cup final. Barca have never met Dortmund in the Champions League and would be meeting Internazionale for the third time in the group stage of the Champions League.
Marquee match: Barcelona vs Dortmund.
Prediction for top two: Barcelona are expected to win the group, with Dortmund edging out Internazionale to second-place owing to their superior recent pedigree in the competition.
Zenit St. Petersburg (Russia); Benfica (Portugal), Olympique Lyonnais (France); Leipzig (Germany).
Brief Preview: Two-time winners Benfica (1961, 1962) are the only former competition winners in the group. Last season, Benfica finished third in their group behind Bayern and Ajax. The Portuguese club, who dropped down to the Europa League, lost to German club Eintracht Frankfurt in the quarterfinals on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate.
Marquee match: Benfica vs Zenit.
Prediction for top two: Benfica and Zenit look favourites to finish in the top-two of the group.
Chelsea (England); Ajax Amsterdam (Netherlands); Valencia (Spain); Lille (France).
Brief Preview: Last season's Europa League winners Chelsea (2012) and Ajax (1971, 1972, 1973, 1995) are the former competition winners in this group. The two former winners have never met in the Champions League. Chelsea return to the Champions League following a year's absence while Ajax's fairy-tale run to the semifinals last season was ended by Tottenham. Valencia have been runners up twice (2000, 2001) in the competition.
Marquee match: Chelsea vs Ajax.
Prediction for top two: Chelea and Ajax.