The Impact of the FIFA World Cup
Despite this year’s FIFA Men’s World Cup being the shortest to ever have been played, the competition is set to heavily impact European football and this year’s UEFA Champions League.
For the first time in its history, the men’s FIFA World Cup will be played outside of the months of May, June or July, with the Qatar edition of the tournament starting on the 21st of November.
As a result, this year’s Champions League is being played across an eight week period, instead of the traditional 12 week period, with the final group stage game being played on the 2nd of November.
With shock results, terrific tifos and goals galore, the group stages of the UEFA Champions League always deliver entertaining football. Last season saw some big shocks with five-time winners Barcelona and 1997 champions Borussia Dortmund exiting at the group stage, as a Sebastian Haller-inspired Ajax won all of their group games.
This year’s group stages has all the potential for a repeat of last season’s shocks.
Group C sees a battle between giants, as well as the opportunity for upsets as Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter and Czech champions Plzeň battle out for the top two spots.
Group A is destined to provide some spectacular stadium scenes, as the notoriously loud fans of Rangers and Napoli will cheer their teams on against the European heavyweights Liverpool and Ajax.
With 96 games spread over eight weeks, sparks are bound to fly!
AFC Ajax (NED)
Liverpool FC (ENG)
SSC Napoli (ITA)
Rangers FC (SCO)
FC Porto (POR)
Club Atlético de Madrid (ESP)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER)
Club Brugge (BEL)
FC Bayern München (GER)
FC Barcelona (ESP)
FC Internationale Milano (ITA)
FC Viktoria Plzeň (CZE)
Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
Sporting Clube De Portugal (POR)
Olympique De Marseille (FRA)
AC Milan (ITA)
Chelsea FC (ENG)
FC Salzburg (AUT)
GNK Dinamo (CRO)
Real Madrid CF (ESP)
RB Leipzig (GER)
FC Shaktar Donetsk (UKR)
Celtic FC (SCO)
Manchester City (ENG)
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
FC Copenhagen (DEN)
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
SL Benfica (POR)
Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR)
Players to Watch
One of the biggest draws of the UEFA Champions League is seeing some of the world’s best players go head-to-head.
After last season’s winners, Real Madrid added to their European pedigree, their star players Vinícius Júnior, Thibaut Courtois and top-scorer Karim Benzema will aim to add to ‘Los Blancos’ impressive 14 titles in the competition.
Erling Braut Haaland, Darwin Núñez and Federico Chiesa together with new Bayern Munich pair Sadio Mané and Matthijs De Ligt are all players who have made high profile moves in the summer and will be looking to bring European glory to their new clubs.
Is this the year that PSG can finally break their UEFA Men's Champions League misfortunes? With the domestic dominance of their front three; Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the trio is certainly one to watch.
Finally, Dušan Vlahović and Robert Lewandowski will look to continue last season’s impressive goalscoring form as Juventus aim for a first European title since 1996 and Barca since 2015.