Barcelona and Bayern Munich compete again

Barcelona and Bayern Munich compete again

The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League is just around the corner, and should produce some exciting football ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup.

The group stage is scheduled for September 6-7 and November 1-2, with matches being played over nine weeks to accommodate the World Cup in Qatar, which begins on November 20. . There will be a Champions League final. It will be held on June 10, 2023 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.

The official tournament in Istanbul on Thursday divided the 32-team field into eight first-round groups, and produced the following results:

Here are the main ways of Thursday’s draw.

Group A is the toughest of the eight groups

In the absence of Viktoria Plzen, Group C with Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan will be considered the toughest of the eight groups. Instead, that honor goes to Group A, with Dutch giants Ajax, last year’s finalist Liverpool, Italian club Napoli, and Scottish side Rangers all joined.

It’s a well-balanced group, and although Liverpool are considered favourites, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of the four teams progress to the knockout stages.

Liverpool have never faced Rangers in the competition, and trips to the Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow are always difficult due to the horrendous crowds, so the first installment of this edition of the ‘Battle of England’ should be interesting. Ajax are the reigning Dutch champions and famously reached the semi-finals of the Champions League three years ago. Napoli are one of Italy’s best outfits, and took four of a possible six points from their two games away from Liverpool during the group stage in 2019-20.

The Canadians compete in Group B

Group B will feature three Canadian players who will be teammates at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, facing each other in the first round.

Stefan Eustaquio has been a key player for Canada since his international debut in 2019. Meanwhile, the stylish central midfielder has seen his stock rise at club level, having moved from regular outfit Pacos de Ferreira to Portuguese powerhouse FC Porto. Basis in off-season. Now the 25-year-old from Leamington, Ont., will take the next step in his budding career when he makes his Champions League debut.

Eustáquio will line up against fellow Canadians Ciel Lauren and Tajon Buchanan when Porto take on Club Brugge in the group stage. While Lauren has valuable championship experience from his time at Turkish club Besiktas, Buchanan will get his first taste of world football’s most prestigious club competition this season with the Belgian league champions.

Bayern Munich and Barcelona meet again

For the third time in four years, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich will lock horns in the UEFA Champions League, as they are joined in Group C by Italian club Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic.

Based on recent results, you’d have to think the Spanish are sick of watching their German counterparts by now. Bayern beat Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-finals of the single leg of the 2019-20 COVID-19 tournament, and then won 3-0 in both legs when the two sides met in the group stage last season.

Of course, fullback and Edmonton native Alfonso Davis will be looking to play against Barcelona, ​​using the pair’s game and the rest of the group to prepare to play for Canada at the World Cup in Qatar. .

Holland, Lewandowski will face former clubs for the first time

In Group G, Manchester City will compete with Spanish team Sevilla, Danish club FC Copenhagen and Germany’s Borussia Dortmund. Norwegian striker Erling Haaland has been a goal-scoring machine for Dortmund over the past two-and-a-half seasons, scoring 85 goals in all competitions. But he moved to Manchester City in the off-season, and is now set to face his former club in the group stage for the first time.

Dortmund winger Marco Reus said: “Manchester City are naturally a force to be reckoned with in the Champions League. We look forward to joining Erling Haaland.”

Similarly, Robert Lewandowski scored 344 goals in 375 games for Bayern Munich from 2014 to 2022 and scored twice in Germany’s 3-0 win at Barcelona’s Camp Nou in last season’s group stage. But following his summer transfer move, the Polish striker will line up for the Catalans against his old club this time around.
Other notable reunions will see Angel Di Maria face Paris Saint-Germain with his new club Juventus in Group H, and AC Milan’s Olivier Giroud against his former team Chelsea in Group E.

About the author: John Molinaro is one of the leading soccer journalists in Canada, having covered the game for several media outlets including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media for over 20 years. He is currently the editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, a website dedicated to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian soccer. TFC Republic can be found over here.

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