Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
The draw for this season’s Champions League group stage has been made and it’s thrown up some brilliant ties.
Here’s what we’re most looking forward to.
Howay the European lads
Where else could we start other than with Group F?
Every competition has one and this is undoubtedly this season’s Group of Death.
Four brilliant, historic sides, all offering something completely different.
This is what the Champions League is all about.
Paris Saint-Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Milan and Newcastle.
Fans of the Toon Army will surely be dancing their way to Greggs tonight having been given arguably the best four away trips the Champions League has to offer.
What a draw. What a group. Bring it on.
Prince would be pleased
This season we’re going to party like it’s 1999.
Group A has given us arguably the biggest match-up of the group stage with Manchester United taking on Bayern Munich.
It will see Harry Kane return to England with his new club, and to the side that was heavily linked with his services over the summer.
It’s a repeat of that famous final in Barcelona and also a repeat of the famous quarter-final in 2010 where Arjen Robben’s volley sent Sir Alex Ferguson’s side crashing out.
The rest of the group could bring a few surprises though, with Copenhagen and the Wilfried Zaha’s Galatasaray also included.
Back where it all began
It was a game between Napoli and Real Madrid in 1990 that persuaded UEFA to ditch the old European Cup and create a Champions League that would see more of the best sides meet more often.
Well now two of Europe’s grandest clubs are back facing each other in the group stage and it’s guaranteed to be a cracker.
The Serie A champions have started where they left off last term with Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia firing in attack for the Partenopei.
Los Blancos meanwhile have a new star in town, with Jude Bellingham seeing everything he touches turn to gold right now.
That match, at the new Santiago Bernabéu, will be one of the undoubted highlights of the group stage.
Union take on the big boys
But the fun doesn’t end there in Group C with Union Berlin making their bow in the competition for the first ever time.
The German minnows were languishing in the second division five years ago but under coach Urs Fischer have gone on the most meteoric of rises.
Union will now go up against the very cream of European football, with Real Madrid, Napoli and Braga coming to town.
It’s a shame then, that they won’t be able to host these trio of great clubs at their famed Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
The old ground doesn’t meet UEFA standards meaning that Union and their fans will have to travel out west to the Olympiastadion, the home ground of their bitter rivals Hertha.
Take that and move on
As far as title defences go, it really couldn’t have started any better for Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola, on the same evening he won the UEFA Men’s Coach of the Year Award, learned his side’s fate in the group stage and will be quietly pleased.
The Citizens face RB Leipzig, Crvena Zvezda and Young Boys.
The Leipzig clash will be a repeat of their last 16 encounter last season which City won 8-1 on aggregate.
And whilst an away trip to Belgrade is something not to be taken for granted and a game against the Swiss side on their plastic pitch is never a walkover, this one should be pretty easy for the reigning champions.
Gunning for it
Arsenal are back in the top tier of European football after six years away.
A lot has changed in those half dozen years, including the atmosphere at the Emirates.
This writer was present the last time the Gunners hosted in the Champions League – a battering at the hands of Bayern Munich – and calling it ‘toxic’ would be putting it lightly.
This time though, the red side of north London will be bouncing with Mikel Arteta’s side being given an eminently winnable group.
Europa League winners Sevilla will certainly pose a threat but shouldn’t scare the Premier League runners-up.
RC Lens are fresh off the back of their impressive campaign last time out in Ligue 1 but have been hit with a raft of player sales.
Whilst PSV will give anyone a game at the Philips Stadion but surely can’t hold a candle to Arsenal’s class in the end.
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