Champions’ League group stage starts this week with Real Madrid looking to win Europe’s top club competition for a third time in a row. No team has ever won three times consecutively since Bayern Munich in the 1970s.
The league consists of eight group stages and is as follows:
Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, Basel, CSKA Moscow
Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain Anderlecht, Celtic
Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, Qarabag
Group D: Juventus, Barcelona. Olympiakos, Sporting
Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, Maribor
Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord
Group G: Monaco, Porto, Besiktas, Leipzig
Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham Hotspur, Apoel
It consists of Benfica, Manchester United, Basel and CSKA Moscow.
Manchester United, the group’s favorite makes a return after a one-year absence where Mourinho will be making a historic move to be the first person to coach three different clubs to European glory.
Benfica has maintained a consistent performance in the second tier of Europe’s elite while Basel has been weakened by persistent sales of top players.
CSKA Moscow only managed to finish last in its group in each of the last four seasons including one that contained United in 2015.
It consists of Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain Anderlecht and Celtic.
In this group Paris Saint-Germain seem to be the favorite having signed Brazilian forward Neymar Junior where they secured a world-record transfer from Barcelona for 222 million Euros in July.
Neymar’s first European campaign with PSG will start their campaign against five-time champion Bayern.
Celtic is never an easy team to visit, but the Scottish champions are likely to be fighting it out with Anderlecht for third place.
It carries clubs like Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma and Qarabag.
Atletico Madrid has reached the final twice in the past three years, losing both times to Real Madrid, while Chelsea who won the cup in 2012 is the current English champion.
Qarabag is the first Azerbaijani team to reach this stage and its reward is one of the most competitive groups.
It includes teams like Juventus, Barcelona. Olympiakos and Sporting.
Juventus and Barcelona met in the 2015 final, with Barca’s Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez who inspired a 3-1 win in Berlin.
Neymar, of course, is no longer around for Barca, with new signing Ousmane Dembele replacing him and it will be a surprise if they fail to go through this stage.
Juventus lost last season’s final to Real Madrid and hasn’t won the Champions League since 1996.
Sporting which has been weakened by the recent sale of midfielder Adrien Silva to Leicester, with Sporting.
Olympiakos and Sporting are regular qualifiers but rarely advance