UEFA Champions League 2019/20: Group A Preview and Analysis
After a break of just over three months, European football's elite competition- UEFA Champions League- is set to begin on September 17. Liverpool, after suffering a shocking loss in 2018 final, managed to get past the finishing line in this year's decider to lift their sixth European Cup.
However, the defending champions are not our focus in this piece as they find themselves in Group E alongside Napoli, Genk, and Red Bull Salzburg.
Talking about Group A, the competition's most successful side- Real Madrid- is placed in this group. Paris Saint-Germain, one of the top-seeded clubs, find themselves alongside the Spanish heavyweights in this year's league stage.
Galatasaray, the Turkish Super Lig champions, and Belgian outfit Club Brugge fill the remaining two spots in Group A.
Below is the list of all the Group A fixtures which will conclude on December 11.
Note: All games begin at 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT if the timings aren't mentioned adjacent to the fixture title.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
Club Brugge vs. Galatasaray (12:55 p.m. ET / 4:55 p.m. GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid
Tuesday, Oct. 1
Real Madrid vs. Club Brugge (12:55 p.m. ET / 4:55 p.m. GMT)
Galatasaray vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Tuesday, Oct. 22
Club Brugge vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Galatasaray vs. Real Madrid
Wednesday, Nov. 6
Paris Saint-Germain vs.Club Brugge
Real Madrid vs. Galatasaray
Tuesday, Nov. 26
Galatasaray vs. Club Brugge (12:55 p.m. ET / 5:55 p.m. GMT)
Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Wednesday, Dec. 11
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Galatasaray
Club Brugge vs. Real Madrid
Without further ado, let's analyse Group A's every member and the chances they have to qualify for Champions League knockout stages.
#1 Real Madrid
After spending over £300m in the transfer market, Zinedine Zidane almost had his rebuilding completed which he sought during the end of last season. Paul Pogba was the only remaining piece of Zidane's overhaul jigsaw which could not be filled in.
Despite spending big, Real Madrid suffered an average pre-season campaign and their La Liga start has been far from impressive. However, with several superstars in the process of overcoming their injury issues, the Galacticos are expected to pick up the pace before UCL kicks off next week.
The 13-time winners will find PSG being the only threat to stop them from finishing at the pinnacle of Group A standings. But, Zinedine Zidane's well-known pedigree in this tournament will help Madrid in claiming the top spot.
#2 Paris Saint-Germain
After a string of disappointing Champions League campaigns, serious questions were asked of Paris Saint-Germain's backroom executions. Working with a thin squad, Thomas Tuchel found it difficult to rotate players between important games.
In order to stabilise things at the French club, Nasser Al-Khelaifi appointed Leonardo as the Sporting director. The Brazilian's decision to enrich the squad with utility players rather than commercial superstars is set to pay rich dividends.
Neymar, despite pushing for Barcelona move, will help PSG this season. The 27-year-old will be determined to make a statement this season after a disappointing few months for him.
Signings of Pablo Sarabia, Ander Herrera, and Mauro Icardi is set to provide much-needed depth to the PSG roster. However, they still lack adequate experience to trump Real Madrid for the top rank in the group.
The Istanbul outfit, after winning the Turkish league last season, have invested ambitiously in the transfer market by signing the likes of Radamel Falcao, Ryan Babel, Steven N'Zonzi, and Jean Michael Seri. However, those signings are expected to propel them further in the domestic circuit rather than in Europe.
Galatasaray are sure to provide a tough test to their group opponents when they visit Türk Telekom Stadium. Still, the Turkish Champions are way behind in terms of talent Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain possess.
Europa League is the best competition for Fatih Terim's side at this moment and probably, the Turkish side will find themselves in after they achieve the third spot in Group A.
#4 Club Brugge
After toiling through a rigorous qualification stage, Club Brugge made it to this year's Champions League group stage by eclipsing Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub 3-1 in the playoffs. With no disrespect aimed towards them, Blauw-Zwarts are the minnows of this competition, especially in this group.
Last year, the Belgian side slipped into the Europa League after finishing third in the group behind Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid. However, the chances of Brugge achieving that this time looks bleak with all the other three sides possessing superior quality than themselves.
But, hosting the top sides at Jan Breydel Stadium and competing against them should provide them a great platform to develop in the future.