The best ties to watch in the Champions League this week
The Champions League group stage returns to the delight of fans across Europe, as 32 of the best sides compete for the coveted European crown.
Last year’s winner Manchester City begin their Champions League campaign today (Tuesday) as clubs dream of the final, which will be played at Wembley Stadium.
16 ties will be played in the first matchday out of six in total, so which ties stand out as being the best to watch?
AC Milan vs Newcastle United
The famous “group of death” title this year goes to Group F, and both ties make the list today.
It has not been a good start for Newcastle United and Eddie Howe this season, currently sitting in the bottom half of the Premier League, and they have broken UEFA rules as a delayed plane meant they missed the time slot for their media conference.
It will be the first Champions League game for the Magpies in 20 years, and first European game in 10 – when they reached the quarterfinals of the Europa League in 2013.
The Italian giants sit third in Serie A; however their preparations have been far from ideal after a hammering against their biggest rivals Inter on Saturday.
Milan reached the semi-finals last season, and a cruel two-legged defeat to Inter means that Milan are hungry for success this time around.
Keep an eye on Sandro Tonali for this game, as the Newcastle midfielder admits he is emotional as he returns to his former club.
Alex’s Prediction: I think it will be a step too soon for Newcastle, Milan 2-1 Newcastle.
PSG vs Borussia Dortmund
The other tie in Group F sees two giants of the modern game face off, both harbouring ambitions to go far this season, and both struggling this season in their respective leagues.
Paris Saint-Germain lost at home to Nice last weekend in a shock result and Borussia Dortmund have two draws and two wins so far as they are mid-table.
After the loss of Lionel Messi and Neymar, the famed partnership in PSG is gone and the team is in development; focusing on a new team spirit despite issues with Kylian Mbappe this summer.
Dortmund have been boosted by the return of American Gio Reyna after a long-term injury but it is unclear if he will make an appearance, so it should be a thrilling contest between the likes of Mbappe, Dembele, Sabitzer and Reus.
Alex’s Prediction: I can’t look past PSG at home, and Dortmund have been conceding plenty on the road already this season. PSG 2-0 Borussia Dortmund.
Lazio vs Atletico Madrid
Lazio and Atletico Madrid face off in Group E in a highly anticipated match between an Italian team on the rise and a Spanish team in transition.
Lazio have returned to the competition for the first time since 2021, after their 2nd place finish last season behind Napoli in Serie A – but will miss possibly one of their most influential players in recent times after Sergej Milinkovic-Savic’s transfer to Al-Hilal.
Atletico Madrid were knocked out in the group stages last year and will want to do better under Diego Simeone, who played for Lazio and won the Scudetto in 2000.
Atletico have so far disappointed in La Liga; their current position of seventh means they are eight points behind leaders Real Madrid.
Alex’s Prediction: I’m expecting a tight and equal game. 1-1.
Bayern Munich vs Manchester United
The stand-out tie on Wednesday sees German champions Bayern Munich entertain Manchester United; themselves in a crisis according to many fans and pundits.
United’s form has not been any better news for fans of the Red Devils; a return of six points out of 15 has seen pressure mount onto Erik Ten Hag.
This game will also mark the first time Harry Kane and United will be on the same pitch after his transfer from Tottenham, but Kane will be playing for Bayern much to the dismay of United.
Kane has four goals in five games so far for Bayern and whilst they sit in second on goal difference in the Bundesliga, their recent 2-2 draw against Leverkusen will come as a surprise.
Bayern will be confident of winning their seventh Champions League – and their first since 2020 – and with Kane leading the line, they are a scary prospect come the knock-out stages.
Alex’s Prediction: No chance for Manchester United. Bayern 3-0 United.
Real Sociedad vs Inter
Real Sociedad and Inter will kick off their campaigns in Group D hoping for a win to take charge of their evenly contested group, featuring Benfica and Red-Bull Salzburg.
Sociedad snuck in to the Champions League via a fourth placed finish last season in La Liga, and will make their third appearance in the group stages – their first in 10 years.
Meanwhile, Inter are in good form, currently top of Serie A; and were finalists last season when they lost to Manchester City by a single goal.
They will also be supremely confident after their 5-1 win over rivals AC Milan and will look to top their group and do one better than last season’s exploits.
This will be an intriguing match-up between a Spanish team looking to make history and get out of the group stages for the first time and Inter, who will lick their wounds after coming so close earlier this year.
Alex’s Prediction: I think it will be a slow start but as Inter enter the game they will be too much. Real Sociedad 1-3 Inter.
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