The Champions League is again and again with a bang after the 2020-21 group stage draw closed in Geneva on Thursday. The highest line? A head-to-head battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as Juventus and Barcelona was paired in Group G. Followers may be seen within the stadium at that recreation after UEFA confirmed that native rules permit the sphere to be as much as 30 p.c full. The standout group stage pairing additionally options an American subplot wherein US teammates Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest compete in opposition to one another.
Champions League draw: Messi versus Ronaldo as Barca, Juve rating
After Italian champions Juve and La Liga runner-up Barcelona haven’t met competitively since November 2017, Ronaldo and Messi will face Group G clashes for the primary time because the Portuguese striker was eradicated from Actual Madrid to Juventus renew their rivalry on the sphere in 2018.
Ronaldo and Messi have every confronted one another 33 occasions in aggressive membership video games and Barcelona’s Messi has prevailed 15 occasions to this point, with Ronaldo profitable 9 occasions at former golf equipment Actual and Manchester United. The 2 males dominated the Champions League. Ronaldo gained 5 European cups – two greater than Messi. Ronaldo additionally tops the all-time charts at 130, 15 greater than Messi, his closest rival.
Whereas the match between the 2 greatest soccer stars is the headline of the Juventus versus Barcelona pairing, two of the USMNT’s finest skills might additionally take to the stage within the recreation. Juventus midfielder McKennie made a transfer from Schalke to Turin this summer time, whereas defender Dest has simply sealed a everlasting transfer from Ajax to Barcelona.
Executed deal! USMNT’s Dest joins Barcelona
The reigning champions Bayern Munich have been positioned outdoors of Group G in Group A in opposition to Atletico Madrid, FC Salzburg and Lokomotiv Moscow. And Group H guarantees to be essentially the most unpredictable with final season runner-up Paris Saint-Germain together with Manchester United, RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir.
With the group stage set to start on October 20-21, ESPN has rated how they’re going to shake off and which groups will make it to the spherical of 16.
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GROUP A: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, RB Salzburg, Lokomotiv Moscow
The German and Champions League winners Bayern will probably be sturdy favorites to achieve the knockout spherical. Atletico Madrid and FC Salzburg are prone to struggle for second place within the group.
Salzburg have misplaced Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino since nearly going previous final season’s group stage, however the Austrian champions have proven themselves to be masters of recruitment and rebuilding. Atletico should not underestimate the risk they’ll pose, even with their new strike pairing of Diego Costa and Luis Suarez.
Lokomotiv Moscow, who completed second within the Russian Premier League at Zenit Saint Petersburg, solely completed backside as soon as within the competitors final season and has the identical destiny this time.
AHEAD: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid
MUST SEE MATCH: The 2 video games between Bayern and Atletico not solely symbolize the perfect of the group, but in addition give an actual perception into how nicely they’re constructed for the presumed stress of the knockout rounds. Plus, it is going to be enjoyable to see Luis Suarez, now in Diego Simeone’s first XI, and Joao Felix swap blows with Bayern’s fearsome striker corps. (Oh, and so they not have artful veterans like Diego Godin to carry Atletico’s rearguard down.)
ESPN FC’s Alejandro Moreno cancels Actual Madrid’s 1-Zero win over Actual Valladolid.
On paper, Actual Madrid appear to be favorites to qualify, nevertheless it’s an excellent group the place any staff is able to beating one another.
Zinedine Zidanes Actual ought to lead the group however Internazionale is again on the rise below Antonio Conte. Romelu Lukaku fired the staff for final season’s Europa League ultimate. The Ukrainian champions Shakhtar are an skilled participant within the Champions League and a harmful opponent, particularly in Ukraine, whereas Mönchengladbach has turn into one of many main groups in Germany below coach Marco Rose.
AHEAD: Actual Madrid, Inter
MUST SEE MATCH: Inter Milan in opposition to Borussia Mönchengladbach could not sound like a lot, however it is going to be a tactical battle and almost definitely the video games that may decide who involves Actual within the spherical of 16. Conte and Inter have sufficient expertise to advance from entrance to again, however Gladbach’s assault move will unsettle all comers in Europe as in Germany.
Portuguese champions FC Porto are the seeded staff in Group C however the actuality is that Manchester Metropolis would be the staff to beat on this part. Pep Guardiola’s staff, surprisingly knocked out by Lyon within the quarter-finals final season in Lisbon, ought to undergo this group.
Marseille, coached by former Porto, Chelsea and Tottenham supervisor Andre Villas-Boas, will assist his probabilities of getting out of the group, particularly if he manages to maintain the usually hostile environment on the Stade Velodrome with a restricted variety of Supporters throughout the staff restore floor.
AHEAD: Man Metropolis, Marseille
MUST SEE MATCH: Porto versus Marseille is the battle for second place but in addition an opportunity for Villas-Boas, who gained the Europa League with Porto in 2010/11, to point out how far he has are available his profession after two modest appearances within the Premier League .
GROUP D: Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta BC, Midtjylland FC
Liverpool ought to be making good progress as a gaggle. Ajax and Atalanta, the shock packages from the final two Champions League campaigns, might make life tough for Jurgen Klopp’s staff at residence, however even with out the assist of a loud and passionate Anfield, Liverpool will probably be too sturdy for his or her rivals.
Midtjylland hopes to trigger a stir with third place and qualification for the Europa League within the first group stage of the Champions League.
AHEAD: Liverpool, Atalanta
MUST SEE MATCH: With all due respect to Ajax, Group D will probably be thrilling to see how the attacking forces of Liverpool and Atalanta measure up. Each side have a terrifying vary of objective weapons, and either side need to drive their prints on each opponent. Will one facet dare once more?
GROUP E: Seville, Chelsea, Krasnodar, Rennes
Europa League winners Sevilla and Chelsea are set to battle for the highest two spots in what seems to be essentially the most simple group to emerge from the draw. This can be a group of extremes as two golf equipment of significant European ancestry will face two others – Stade Rennais and Krasnodar – who will make their first look within the Champions League group stage.
Each Stade Rennais and Krasnodar secured qualification for the competitors by ending third of their home league. Seville coach Unai Emery and Chelsea supervisor Frank Lampard will subsequently calmly consider that they struck a dream draw.
IN ADVANCE: Seville, Chelsea
MUST SEE MATCH: Seville’s European bonafides are robust to contest, however this would be the time Chelsea anticipate their signings like Timo Werner and Kai Havertz to point out their class given their very own expertise within the competitors. Tune in and take a look at the enjoyable.
Borussia Dortmund would be the favourite on this group, particularly if Manchester United goal Jadon Sancho stays on the membership to construct on his partnership with Erling Haaland.
Hopefully Simone Inzaghis Lazio may even make it to the spherical of 16. The Russian champions Zenit Saint Petersburg usually wrestle to repeat their home type within the Champions League. Second place is prone to be a duel between Lazio and Zenit, with Membership Bruges making up the numbers.
AHEAD: Dortmund, Lazio
Matteo Bonetti says he cannot struggle Juventus for the Serie A title till an actual challenger reveals up.
GROUP G: Juventus, Barcelona, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencvaros
All eyes will probably be on the 2 recreation days the place Ronaldo and Messi will play in opposition to one another as that is actually a gaggle of two heavyweights and two minnows in Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros.
Each Kiev and Hungarian champions Ferencvaros have proud histories in European competitors, however by way of modernity they’re prone to be battling for third place and a spot within the Europa League, whereas the 2 greats battle for the highest spot. Barcelona’s 8-2 collapse in opposition to Bayern Munich within the quarter-finals final season made the issues at Camp Nou clear, so Juventus is prone to overshadow the head-to-head video games.
AHEAD: Juventus, Barcelona
MUST SEE MATCH: Juventus versus Barcelona. Do we have now to say extra?
Gab Marcotti claims that Man United belong to one of many hardest UCL teams alongside PSG and RB Leipzig.
GROUP H: Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir
An enormous membership will fall by the wayside on this group. Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and RB Leipzig are combating for the 2 qualifying locations.
PSG with the firepower of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar would be the staff to beat, however United’s prime three Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood even have targets in them. Leipzig will miss Timo Werner’s targets after becoming a member of Chelsea this summer time however they’ve caught to defensive Rock Dayot Upamecano.
Istanbul Basaksehir, who’re making their first look within the Champions League, may even be uncomfortable opponents. Qualification might depend upon which groups take essentially the most factors from the Turkish champions.
IN ADVANCE: PSG, Man United
MUST SEE MATCH: PSG and RB Leipzig are a replay of the one-legged semi-finals this summer time, which the French facet simply gained due to targets from Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat. Will it’s totally different this time?