The stage is set. The draw has been made and the famous anthem is ready to go. You guessed it – it’s almost time for the Champions League to return!
Europe’s elite competition gets back underway in just two weeks, with Manchester City looking to defend their title having seen off Inter Milan in last season’s final.
Ahead of what looks to be another mouth-watering campaign, we’ve taken a look at how each Premier League team might get on.
Having won the treble last season, including their first Champions League title, it’s difficult to see how things can get better for Man City this season. Yet in Pep Guardiola, they’ve got a winner at the helm and he’ll be desperate for them to defend their European crown.
City have made some shrewd signings over the summer, bringing in the likes of Mateo Kovacic, Josko Gvardiol, Matheus Nunes and Jeremy Doku. But while Erling Haaland is looking as prolific as ever, the loss of Kevin De Bruyne until early next year through injury could hurt them.
They should comfortably get out of their group, which sees them come up against RB Leipzig, Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys. City have history with Leipzig, having met them in the round of 16 last season.
A 1-1 draw in the first leg had their fans biting their fingernails but a 7-0 thrashing in the return fixture, spurred on by an astonishing five-goal haul from Haaland, had them purring and set them on their way to their maiden European title.
After being linked with a switch to United all summer, Harry Kane is finally heading to Old Trafford – but the England international will be lining up against them for new side Bayern Munich.
United are back in the big time following a campaign in the Europa League last term that saw them crash out in the quarter-finals to eventual winners Sevilla. And they’ve been handed a tough test in Group A against six-time winners Bayern.
Kane is famously targeting the first trophy of his career and he’s started well in Germany, scoring three times in his opening three games. The 30-year-old’s summer move raised eyebrows but he’ll be justified in his decision if he can fire Bayern to European glory.
Elsewhere in the group, United will face Copenhagen, as well as Galatasaray who have strengthened well with the signings of Mauro Icardi, Wilfried Zaha and Hakim Ziyech. Zaha will be returning to face his old side and will come up against former Crystal Palace team-mate Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal side are finally back in the Champions League for the first time since 2017. The Gunners finished second in the league last season, running City close in the title race for much of the season.
They’ve added depth over the summer bringing in Declan Rice, Kai Havertz and David Raya but it remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to cope with tougher midweek battles alongside their domestic ambitions.
Arsenal have been dealt a reasonable group draw compared to some of their rivals but Europa League winners Sevilla will be a tough test, who will be looking to add another European trophy to their collection.
Elsewhere, they face PSV, who have an exciting squad packed full of attacking talent, as well as RC Lens, who finished runners-up to PSG in Ligue 1 last season.
Following their takeover almost two years ago, Newcastle have enjoyed remarkable progress on the pitch. They finished fourth in the Premier League last season and are finally back among the big boys in the Champions League for the first time since 2003.
Their fans will be looking forward to some exciting away days but unfortunately for the team, Champions League groups don’t come much tougher than this. Newcastle will need to deal with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele as they face PSG, who are looking to win the competition for the first time.
Elsewhere, they face AC Milan, who boast countless top players, as well as Borussia Dortmund, whose intimidating atmosphere at Signal Iduna Park is enough to make any top team crumble.
Newcastle have more than enough talent to compete with anyone on their day but a European campaign with a fairly thin squad is a completely different kettle of fish.
Real Madrid are targeting their 15th European Cup and they’ve got a new superstar running their midfield. England international Jude Bellingham has slotted in seamlessly at the Bernabeu, scoring five times in his first four La Liga games.
Real face Italian champions Napoli, as well as Champions League newbies Union Berlin, who finished fourth in last season’s Bundesliga.
Barcelona should comfortably reach the knockout stages, with Porto their main rivals to finish top of Group H ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp.
Meanwhile, Scottish champions Celtic face a tough task to progress. Brendan Rodgers’ side come up against Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Feyenoord and they’ll be relying on their strong support to carry them to a surprise result or two.
We can’t wait for Europe’s premier football competition to get back underway and you can watch all the action from the best seats in the house, with Engage’s wide range of exclusive hospitality packages.
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