Champions League 2018/19
Real Madrid will be looking to win their fourth consecutive Champions League title but Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City can be expected to push them all the way – and will fancy their chances after the draw for the group stage was made in Monaco.
Manchester City have underperformed in this competition over the past few years but Pep Guardiola’s men are the favourites to hold the famous trophy aloft at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano next June. Cristiano Ronaldo will undoubtedly have something to say about that and his summer move to Italian giants Juventus gives them impetus going into this year’s competition.
Looking at the four English clubs there is a good chance that a couple of them may not even get out of the group stage this time around. Liverpool are in what could be referred to as the group of death and will need to be on top of their game to finish in the top two against PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. Tottenham Hotspur also have a tough task ahead of them after being grouped with Barcelona. Inter and PSV Eindhoven.
Manchester United have a slightly easier task although they will meet up with former favourite Ronaldo at his new club, as well as Valencia and Young Boys. It will not be as easy as some may think but Jose Mourinho will expect his side to qualify for the knockout stage – if the Portuguese manager is still at Old Trafford by then.
United’s cross city rivals will regard the draw as an excellent chance to progress and will expect to top their group made up of Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim. City’s owners will expect nothing short of Champions League glory this season and they have been handed arguably the easiest group to begin their quest for the trophy.
In the other groups Bayern Munich should qualify for the round of 16 without much trouble, as Benfica, Ajax and AEK Athens should not test them too much. All the favourites should be able to get through, although Group A looks interesting with Atletico Madrid facing Borussia Dortmund and Monaco as well as Club Brugges.
Topping the group is all-important as a round of 16 match up with the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid usually means an early exit no matter what your squad looks like. But assuming the favourites do take top spot (and that is historically a big assumption) then fans can once again expect some classic quarterfinal fixtures.
Manchester City has looked in excellent form already this season and this could be the year that they finally lift the most important trophy in European club football. But Paris Saint-Germain is also desperate to win this competition and Kylian Mbappé will believe he can do anything after his World Cup performances.