Matchday One of the new Champions League season kicks off on Tuesday, with quite a few mouthwatering matches in store. All the bigwigs will be in action as the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Manchester City, PSG, Juventus and more get set to begin their course for European glory.
As fascinating as the domestic leagues are, there is a certain charm to the Champions League that none can match, which is why all the greatest players in the world – Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Thomas Muller, Antoine Griezmann – keep looking at the tournament as the pinnacle of club football.
Last season it was the Madrid derby that ended up being the focus with both Real and Atletico entering the final for the second time in three seasons. And the result was the same as the one from 2014, with Real Madrid winning the final to clinch their 11th European title.
This time the Champions League final will take place on June 3 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, and every single one of the 32 teams will dream of making it to that marquee clash, even if the reality is, only a handful have a chance.
The usual suspects will again be the favourites – so expected Real Madrid to face competition from the likes of Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, PSG, Juventus and Manchester City, who, after their semifinal appearance last season, will have eyes on bigger things, especially with Pep Guardiola at the helm.
Guardiola will be the focus a couple of times, at least, this season, when Manchester City play Barcelona in the group stages having been drawn together. The first matchday will see City play Borussia Monchengladbach, while Barcelona face Celtic in Group C.
The biggest clash over the two days looks like being PSG vs Arsenal, with the two teams meeting for the first time in the Champions League. PSG have failed to really find their European rhythm, despite being flush with cash and world-class players, which is why Unai Emery, the man who made the Europa League title his own, was hired.
Champions League schedule (all matches begin at 8.45 p.m. CET, 7.45 p.m. BST, 2.45 p.m. ET, 12.15 a.m. IST): Matchday 1.
Tuesday, September 13: Group A: PSG vs Arsenal at Parc des Princes.
FC Basel vs Ludogorets at St. Jakob-Park.
Group B: Dynamo Kyiv vs Napoli at NSK Olimpiyskyi.
Benfica vs Besiktas at Estadio da Luz.
Group C: Barcelona vs Celtic at Camp Nou.
Manchester City vs Borussia Monchengladbach at Etihad Stadium.
Group D: Bayern Munich vs FC Rostov at Allianz Arena.
PSV Eindhoven vs Atletico Madrid at Philips Stadion.
Wednesday, September 14: Group E: Bayer Leverkusen vs CSKA Moscow at BayArena.
Tottenham vs Monaco at Wembley.
Group F: Real Madrid vs Sporting Lisbon at Bernabeu.
Legia Warsaw vs Borussia Dortmund at Stadion Wojska Polskiego.
Group G: Club Brugge vs Leicester City at Jan Breydel Stadium.
FC Porto vs FC Copenhagen at Estadio do Dragao.
Group H: Lyon vs Dinamo Zagreb at Stade de Lyon.
Juventus vs Sevilla at Juventus Stadium.