What 2021 Champions League Group is the Most Competitive?
On August 26th, the Champions League group stage draw occurred to determine the initial fixtures for this upcoming season. Thirty-two clubs were randomly selected into eight pools of four clubs each. The first Champion League matches are on September 14th, but which group will be the most competitive?
On paper, the two most difficult groups appear to be “Group A” and “Group B.” Group A boasts current Premier League champions Manchester City, 2020 Champions League finalists Paris Saint Germain, current Bundesliga runner-ups RB Leipzig, and current Belgian Division A champions Club Brugge. Group B contains current La Liga champions Atletico Madrid, 2020 Premier League champions Liverpool, two-time Champions League winners FC Porto, and seven-time Champions League winners AC Milan.
The commonly coined phrase, “The Group of Death,” is given to the most competitive group in a tournament. This season in the Champions League it appears to be Group A or Group B, but what group is more difficult between the two?
Manchester City has won three of the last four Premier League titles and are the current runners up of this past season’s Champions League final. They will be playing head to head with a Paris Saint Germain side that recently acquired Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Gini Wijnaldum, and Lionel Messi. Those five new recruits for the Paris outfit combine for a total of ten Champions League medals. PSG have brought in Champions League winning experience as they hope to win the competition for the first time in their history. RB Leipzig have been highly competitive in the Bundesliga the past couple of seasons and reached the Semi-Finals of the Champions League a little over a year ago. Club Brugge won’t be favorites to progress into the tournament’s knockout stages but represent the best side from Belgium. It will be a fascinating contest.
Liverpool appear to be back to their winning ways, only a year out from lifting the Premier League title and two years out from lifting the Champions League in 2019. Atletico Madrid, under Diego Simeone, have reached the Champion’s League final two times in the past ten years. They are now in a confident spirit having won La Liga over Barcelona and Real Madrid this past season and will be motivated to challenge next for club football’s greatest prize. It’s been over a decade since Milan and Porto have been to a Champions League final, but given the magnanimity of the two clubs, they can’t be ruled out in making a run. Anything can happen in tournament football.
My prediction is to see Manchester City and PSG qualify for the knockout rounds from Group A and Liverpool and Atletico to progress from Group B. Which group excites you the most from the recent draw? Leave your opinions in the comments below!
Image from here