UEFA Champions League: Mouthwatering draws and games
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo will face his former club Manchester United after the two European giants were drawn together in the Champions League group stage. Last season’s runners-up Liverpool, big-spending French league champions PSG and Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli were thrown together in the group. Real Madrid faces last season’s semi-finalists AS Roma along with CSKA Moskva and Plzen. Inter Milan, back in the competition after a six-season and drew against Barcelona, PSV and Tottenham Hotspur.
The Champions League has been altered this season, with more places given to teams from the bigger leagues like from Spain, England, Germany, and Italy now have four guaranteed slots apiece and fewer from Europe’s less glamorous competitions. With the new system, it could cut down on the number of one-sided contests or one-sided group match games where after the draw only we all can predict two group winners and which have spoiled the group stage in recent times. But it could also increase the competitive imbalance in European football and remove a broad spectrum of viewers and fan followers because many lesser teams will now target to Europa Leagues. It’s that UEFA is moving toward the conceptual super league format which was under discussion for a long time. Due to the seeding system and UEFA’s policy of keeping teams from the same countries apart in the group stage, there was a shortage of big heavyweight clashes but lots of intriguing ties too.
1. Ronaldo vs. United
Cristiano Ronaldo has faced off against his former club in the UEFA Champions League, in the Round of 16 in 2013. It’ll be exciting to see him grace the Old Trafford pitch again, but this time in Juventus shirt.
2. Group of Death 1: Group C
Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool might have both been strongly favored to qualify their group. They’ll not only have to deal with each other but also with Napoli, who retained all of its key players after giving Juventus a run for its money in Serie A last season.
3. Group of Death 2: Group B
While not as top-heavy as Group C, but Group B does not have a weak link like Red Star. Instead, all three of the teams below FC Barcelona will feel like they can fight for second place. Tottenham Hotspur is the favorite, but Inter Milan added big names like Radja Nainggolan, Stefan de Vrij, Sime Vrsaljko and Keita Balde this summer. PSV held onto Hirving Lozano despite interest from bigger clubs, and he’s scoring at will in the Netherlands. No one will have an easy game in this group.
4. New Gen choice: Group A
If you’re more interested in up-and-coming stars and fun games Group A is where it’s at. Atlético Madrid might have its strongest squad ever, Christian Pulisic is still balling for Borussia Dortmund, and AS Monaco has reinvested the Kylian Mbappe money into young talents.
5. LOL: Group D and Group F
A couple of years ago, UEFA changed the draw rules to give automatic Pot 1 placements to the champions of the top seven leagues. The seventh best league in Europe is the Russian Premier League, and its champion is Lokomotiv Moscow, who doesn’t have an impressive recent history in this competition. They got lucky in the draw for Group D with Porto, Schalke, and Galatasaray. In Group F, Manchester City got lucky after a long history of being a tight group plus they are the only English team which is in an easy group. In this group, we got Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, and Hoffenheim.
Not the match but more important, live telecast
Sony retains media rights for Champions League in India. After watching La Liga in the phone, it’s a relief.
Sony Pictures Networks India on Thursday announced that it has retained the broadcast rights to the UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Europe League in the Indian subcontinent until 2020-21. The rights cover the broadcast of 138 matches in the UEFA Champions League and 205 games in the UEFA Europa League across the sports channels of the network and also includes live-streaming of the league on Sony’s video streaming platform, SonyLIV.