After a 115-day hiatus, the Champions League is finally back. Although there were qualifying rounds over the summer, this is the first real taste of the top club-level soccer tournament in the world since the final that will be remembered for the blunders in goal by the concussed, and soon replaced, Loris Karius.
If you want a breakdown of the groupings, then we already have you covered. The matches this week offer compelling storylines, mainly centered around players who have moved clubs over the transfer window.
The Group A match between AS Monaco and Atletico Madrid pits newly acquired Atletico midfielder Thomas Lemar against his former club. Wednesday’s action will also see Real Madrid take the worlds biggest stage without Cristiano Ronaldo, while Ronaldo sees his first return to Spain since his transfer, as the Italian giants Juventus visit Valencia.
Another storyline to pay attention to this year is how the English clubs do in the competition. Last year, Liverpool made a run to the final, but an English side is still yet to win the Champions League since Chelsea won in 2012. With Liverpool, Man City and Man United all fresh off transfer windows where they bolstered their squad – and Tottenham off a transfer window where literally nothing happened – the trophy could be coming back to England.
The Italian clubs will also be hoping to end their long Champions League drought, which spans back to 2010, as Juventus stand as one of the favorites after their signing of Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer.
The longest drought of a “big five nation” that is hoping to be snapped a 25-year drought, as a French club last won the competition back in 1993. Now with PSG making a managerial change with the addition of Thomas Tuchel, forwards Mbappe and Neymar could help lead the Parisians to their first ever Champions League title.
The matches set to take place this week are going to be entertaining, with matches like Inter v. Spurs, Atletico v. Monaco, Liverpool v. PSG, and Real Madrid v. Roma. But no matter what happens in those matches, the 256 days between now and the final will be a lot of fun.