The UEFA Champions League is set to get underway tomorrow following the group stage draw, as Europe's elite prepare to compete for the club's biggest football prize.
Chelsea are the reigning European Champions after defeating Manchester City in last season's final and both Premier League clubs are once again expected to challenge for the trophy. Manchester United will also be in the hunt after a fantastic transfer window in which they re-signed Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Elsewhere, PSG boast arguably the best squad in the world after signing Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum. But the biggest arrival was that of Lionel Messi, who left Barcelona after 21 years.
Already boasting the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, PSG are definitely many people's favorites to win the Champions League this season.
Few teams may spring a surprise in the Champions League
While the big guns are expected to challenge for the trophy, there are many other teams who could spring a surprise or two in the tournament. These teams may not be expected to go far in the tournament but they are capable of challenging the bigger clubs and producing a few shock results here and there.
So let's take a look at the five teams that could surprise everyone in the Champions League this season.
#5 Shakhtar Donetsk
After a brave display in the 2020-21 Champions League to finish third in Group B above Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk will be hoping to achieve more this season.
In Champions League qualification this season, Shakhtar comfortably beat Genk 4-2 over two legs in the third round and edged past Monaco in a nail-biting 3-2 playoff win. They have been drawn into the same group as Real Madrid and Inter for a second consecutive season.
The Ukrainian club will definitely look to do one better than their previous year's feat of a third-placed finish. They had managed to beat Real Madrid in both games but lost out on qualification due to goal difference.
Shakhtar prefers to play fast football due to their superb transition and swift counter-attacks, which is their primary weapon. They have also added two exciting players to their already excellent core - Pedrinho and Lassina Traore - both of them very young and showing a lot of potential.
Inter have seen the departure of key players and manager Antonio Conte in the summer while Real Madrid are in a transition under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. As such, Shakhtar definitely stand a chance of upsetting the odds in the Champions League and reaching Round of 16 at the very least.
Wolfsburg upset the odds to finish fourth in the Bundesliga last season, enjoying their best campaign since their second-placed finish in 2014-15. Head coach Oliver Glasner received plenty of plaudits and his exploits with Die Wolfe were enough for Eintrach Frankfurt to poach him. He was replaced by Mark van Bommel, who has overseen a near faultless start to his side's 2021-22 campaign.
After achieving automatic Champions League qualification last season by finishing fourth in the league, the German club have won their opening four games in the Bundesliga. With six goals scored and just one conceded, Wolfsburg are at the top of the Bundesliga and are the only side to have maintained their 100 per cent record.
Wolfsburg will be hoping to continue their form in the Champions League this season. They have built a strong defense at the back and have young, exciting players in attack. Their star-striker Wout Weghorst scored 20 goals in the league last season and has started the new season in similar fashion, scoring twice and providing an assist in four outings.
Housed in one of the most open groups in the Champions League alongside Sevilla, RB Salzburg and Lille, Wolfsburg have every chance of progressing to the knockout stages. Considering their form, you wouldn't put it past them to even surprise the bigger teams in the latter stages of the Champions League.