The new, 2023/24 Champions League campaign is finally upon us. As always, the first step is the group stage draw, which this year took place on August 31 in Monaco. The 32 teams – including last year winners Manchester City and debutants Union Berlin and Royal Antwerp – have found out their rivals for the upcoming matches.
The first group stage matches are scheduled for September 19, and the big final will be played at Wembley Stadium on June 1. But before we can even predict who will go all the way, it is important we take a look at the 2023/24 Champions League group stage draw results.
Full List of 2023/24 Champions League Groups
Barcelona and Arsenal, who’ve been waiting long for a proper run in the competition, have been blessed with relatively easy rivals. On the other hand, Newcastle United make their return to the competition by being placed in one of the toughest groups in recent history.
Bayern Munich and Manchester United are the obvious candidates to finish in the top two spots and advance to the Champions League play-offs. Among other things, Harry Kane’s return to Old Trafford will be a match to look forward to. However, Ten Hag’s men need to pick up the pace because, on their best day, Galatasaray is definitely capable of stealing away some points.
With all due respect to their rivals, Arsenal – who make their return to the competition after six long years – should easily top this group. Sevilla won the Europa League last season but started the current La Liga campaign with three straight defeats. PSV Eindhoven and Lens are solid but passable teams, too. Meanwhile, the struggle for the second spot will be an exciting one, for sure.
A year ago we would’ve said that this group is an easy one for Real Madrid. However, with the departure of Karim Benzema and the season-long injuries of Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao, Napoli stand a chance in the fight for the top spot. Braga and Union Berlin will likely battle it out for the third spot which offers a place in the 2023/24 Europa League play-offs.
|Red Bull Salzburg|
In terms of football, Portugal’s champions Benfica, last year’s runner-ups Inter Milan and La Liga’s breakthrough side Real Sociedad are on equal footing in this group. However, the Basques lack experience in the Champions League which may prove vital this season – their last appearance was in 2013/14. As for Salzburg, we can only wish them better luck next time.
Considering Lazio’s poor form at the start of the season and Feyenoord’s and Celtic’s weaker rosters, finishing first place is a must for Atletico Madrid. Especially considering that Diego Simeone’s men didn’t make it out of the groups last year. The battle for the second spot will depend on Lazio – if Maurizio Sarri can turn things around, they are the top contenders, if not, it’s everyone’s game.
The Newcastle United fans waited 19 years for their return to the Champions League only to be placed in the group of death. But nothing is impossible for Eddie Howe’s men, especially with PSG starting a new project with a fresh manager and Borussia Dortmund losing key player Jude Bellingham this summer. Only AC Milan, last year’s semi-finalists, look like a stable team at the moment. Every game in this group will be a must-watch.
Manchester City’s reward for winning the trophy last term appears to be the incredible easy draw they got this year around. They demolished RB Leipzig 8-1 on aggregate in the round of 16 in the previous campaign, and Crvena zvezda and Young Boys don’t have the squads to compete with Pep Guardiola’s men. The only mystery about this group is who is going to finish in third.
After failing to qualify for the knockout rounds two years in a row, it was time that Barcelona got an easy group. Porto will hope for a place in the round of 16 and can definitely pose a problem at Estadio do Dragao, but Shakhtar Donetsk (playing home games in Hamburg) and Royal Antwerp should be easy opponents for the Catalans.