2022-23 Champions League draw: group stage analysis and predictions – The Guardian

Group A

After the indifferent beginning of the season of Liverpool, the Champions League offers little rest. With Erik ten Hag gone after five seasons that produced some notable European results, Ajax are something of an unknown quantity under Alfred Schreuder, who managed Hoffenheim and was an assistant at Ajax and Barcelona before overseeing the end of last season at Club Brugge. He plays Ajax’s familiar high-pressing style of football, but has to deal with the exits of Lisandro Martínez, André Onana, Sébastien Haller, Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch, with Antony possibly joining them soon. Napoli, backed by Georgian prodigy Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, always represent a difficult journey, and the atmosphere at Rangers, back in the group stages after 12 years, is unlikely to be any less fervent.

Anticipated order: 1 Liverpool 2 Napoli 3 Ajax 4 Guardians

Group B

What Group B lacks in star power, it makes up for in plot. Sérgio Conçeiçao’s Porto have become typically awkward opponents in recent years, knocking out Juventus before last season. There has been the usual summer flux at the Portuguese champions, with six players leaving, including Fábio Vieira to Arsenal, and four players arriving, but home form so far has been intact, with three wins from three in the league. For Atlético, the story is whether Diego Simeone can evolve to a more progressive style, with financial pressures starting to bite. Bayer Leverkusen finished third in the Bundesliga and have largely kept that side together but this campaign has started with four straight defeats. Club Brugge are Belgian champions, but with Carl Hoefkens replacing Schreuder as coach, this feels like a season of transition.

Anticipated order: 1 Porto 2 Athletics 3 Leverkusen 4 Brugge

Group C

Without a doubt the most glamorous group, with 14 titles between the sides. For Barcelona, ​​Bayern, who beat them twice in the group stage last season and inflicted an 8-2 defeat on them in the 2020 quarter-finals, represents a useful test. After years of stagnation, Barça may be ready to compete with the elite again, having brought in Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Franck Kessié, Andreas Christensen and Jules Koundé in a frankly inexplicable and highly risky spending spree. Inter defeated Barça and Bayern en route to the 2010 title and repeated the Romelu Lukaku-Lautaro Martínez partnership. Bayern, having signed Sadio Mané and Matthijs de Ligt, started the season winning three out of three, but home form is rarely a problem. The Czech champions, Viktoria Plzen, make up the group.

Anticipated order: 1 Bayern 2 barque 3 between 4 Pilsen

Group D

For Tottenham, the draw could have been worse. They have the stadium, they have the manager and with the arrival of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma and Ivan Perisic they may now be able to seriously challenge again, but in terms of their progress perhaps most significant is having drawn Eintracht Frankfurt, the weakest of Pot 1. sides They came 11th in the Bundesliga last season, lost Filip Kostic and have yet to win a league this term. Sporting finished six points behind Porto last season and have already suffered a 3-0 defeat to them this season. Add in a 3-3 draw with Braga on the opening day and there are serious concerns for Rúben Amorim’s side. After last season’s second place finish, Marseille spent a net £60m to add Alexis Sánchez, Jordan Veretout, Chancel Mbemba and Mateo Guendouzi.

Anticipated order: 1 Tottenham 2 Marseille 3 Sporting 4 unity

Group E

Winning the Scudetto for the first time in 11 years was a first step in restoring Milan to greatness; the next is European progress — but it’s 10 years since Milan last reached the quarter-finals. Divock Origi and Charles De Ketelaere arrived to strengthen the attack, but the most significant transfer activity may be the departure of Franck Kessié. Chelsea have been hugely inconsistent already this season and are likely to add to their squad before the window closes, but the biggest problem remains the lack of a consistent goalscorer. RB Salzburg reached the last 16 for the first time last season, but their existence remains Sisyphea, building a side and then selling their best talent: 10 players left this summer. Dinamo Zagreb remain caught between levels: they have won 16 of the past 17 Croatian titles but won just three of 36 group matches.

Anticipated order: 1 Chelsea 2 Milan 3 Salzburg 4 Dynamo

Group F

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Group F is that, despite the war, Shakhtar can participate, although playing home games in Warsaw, lost many players after Fifa allowed them to break their contracts. The visit of the European champions, Real Madrid, in particular will be an emotional occasion. How good Madrid is remains unclear. Their success last season seemed less the result of some great plan than the finishing of Karim Benzema, the goalkeeper of Thibaut Courtois and an unpleasant self-belief. Casemiro left, with Aurélien Tchouameni and Antonio Rüdiger arriving. RB Leipzig lost Nordi Mukiele and Tyler Adams and gained Timo Werner but had a difficult start, taking just two points from three games. Celtic, much improved under Ange Postecoglou, have a reasonable chance of a notable win or two and maybe even sneak a second.

Anticipated order: 1 Real Madrid 2 Leipzig 3 Celtic 4 Shakhtar

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema was named Uefa Men's Player of the Year after the Champions League group stage draw.
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema was named Uefa Men’s Player of the Year after the Champions League group stage draw. Photo: Kristian Skeie/Uefa/Getty Images

Group G

The obvious headline is the meeting between Erling Haaland and Borussia Dortmund, the club he left for Manchester City. It is to win the Champions League that he was largely signed as City look to find greater ruthlessness in front of goal in the most difficult games. However, they are unlikely to reach the group stage. Dortmund, who replaced Haaland with Sébastien Haller and Anthony Modeste, remain inconsistent under Jürgen Klopp’s former assistant Edin Terzić. Sevilla made a faint title challenge for a while in Spain last season but defeat to Osasuna and then a draw at home to Real Valladolid suggest a repeat is unlikely despite a summer in which the only player of real significance they lost was centre-back Diego. Carlos. Copenhagen is back in the group stage after a six-year break.

Anticipated order: 1 Manchester City 2 Dortmund 3 Seville 4 Copenhagen

Group H

Benfica’s quality will define Group H. Roger Schmidt’s side started the season impressively, dismissing Midtjylland and Dynamo Kyiv in the finals by a combined aggregate score of 12-2. If they take points from the Pot 1 and 2 sides, the group could be very difficult. PSG have scored 17 goals in their first three league games, with Lionel Messi seemingly reinvigorated. But hammering Ligue 1 opposition is not the highest level of European competition. Juventus are desperate to return to former glories after finishing fourth in each of the past two seasons. Paul Pogba, Ángel Di María and Filip Kostic arrived with Matthijs de Ligt, Aaron Ramsey and Paulo Dybala all departing. Maccabi Haifa, in their first group stage appearance for 13 years, are the lowest-ranked side in the competition.

Anticipated order: 1 PSG 2 Juventus 3 Benfica 4 Maccabi Haifa

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