What will the first edition look like without Messi and Ronaldo 19 years later?

32 teams, 800 players, 8 divisions and 96 games will determine the group stage Champions League, will begin streaming this Tuesday and will continue through December.In the first competition in twenty years, there won’t even be Lionel Messi Nor does it belong cristiano ronaldothe current champion, manchester cityis the favorite to defend the title, and the main contenders to take the crown away from him are the recently dominant European giants who will try to renew their crown.

Although the most attractive part of the club’s main competition is old world The competition is about to begin, and the starting signal for the competition has sounded nearly three months ago: on June 27, in the first qualifying match in Kopavogur, Iceland, Montenegro Buduchnost Pod Gorica defeated Escaldes Andorra 3-0 in front of 103 spectators. ). Since then, six teams have gained tickets in five consecutive qualifying stages, while the other 46 teams have stayed on the road, including Lithuania’s Žalgiris Vilnius, Luxembourg’s Swift Hesper, Romania’s Farul Constanşa and San Marino. Team Tre Penne. They will certainly be missed by no one except their supporters.

On the other hand, the continent’s superpowers will have near-perfect attendances, although English Liverpool will be absent (they will compete in the Europa League) and Italian Juventus (unable to participate in the European Championship due to UEFA sanctions). Among them, Manchester City took the lead. Last season, they were finally able to transfer their domestic dominance to the intercontinental level and won their first championship after several failed attempts. Orejona During this season, they also won the Premier League and FA Cup.

Josep Guardiola’s side retain the strong foundations that guaranteed it such great success just a few months ago, despite the last transfer market seeing the departure of German captain Ilkay Gundogan (who went to Barcelona), but there are also some, like the Algerian Riyad Mahrez (Al-Ahli) and the Basque Aymeric Laporte (Al-Nassr), in Catalonia Excellent performance in cycling. Few additions have been added to strengthen the squad, including Croatians Joško Gvardiol (from Leipzig) and Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea).

Manchester City are the current Champions League champions. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP.Manchester City are the current Champions League champions. Photo: Paul Ellis/AFP.

The team with Julian Alvarez in the forward line and the dazzling Norwegian Erling Haaland (top scorer in the last Champions League, 12 shouts) has good luck in the group draw: it will draw with Germany Leipzig shares Zone G, Serbian Red Star and Swiss Junior Team. There is nothing to indicate the difficulty you may have in overcoming this situation. The difficulties will certainly begin later on, when they have to meet other teams eager to win the title.

Among those suitors is Real Madrid, the tournament’s king, which has won the title 14 times in a row. Spain will try to remove the sting of last season’s disastrous elimination: in the semi-finals, Manchester City gave them a blow (England 4-0) that will go down in the history of the tournament like a dagger in the on their hearts.sympathizers puff pastry.

The team no longer has the legendary Karim Benzema, but instead pins its hopes on Brazilian Vinicius Junior and Englishman Jude Bellingham, who has since Real Madrid will also try to bid farewell to Carlo Ancelotti, a Champions League winner, in the best way possible after a stellar performance since his arrival. The four-time Champions League winner, who will take charge of Brazil at the end of this season. The Spanish runner-up will be divided into Group C with Napoli, Sporting Braga and Union Berlin. This team is the only first team in this World Cup.

Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid's new ace. Photo: Violeta Santos Moura/Reuters.Jude Bellingham, Real Madrid’s new ace. Photo: Violeta Santos Moura/Reuters.

In the sandbox set up before the ball started rolling, the third contender for the podium was six-time Champions League champions (last in 2020) Bayern Munich, who lost in the quarter-finals last year. The final will be against Manchester City. This time they will share Zone A with Manchester United, Copenhagen and Galatasaray. For these three opponents, there is one fact worth noting: Germany has won all 12 group stage games in the past two seasons.

The Bundesliga champions have had a squad under Thomas Tuchel since March that boasts Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Thomas A lineup that has the experience of veterans such as Muller and the freshness of young people such as Jamal Musiala. Or Matisse calls. They were joined by the Ace of Spades: Harry Kane. The England national team’s all-time captain and top scorer decided to change his home after a glorious decade at Tottenham Hotspur and has already begun to repay the Bavarians’ faith with goals.

Harry Kane will try to achieve at Bayern Munich what he was unable to achieve at Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Leonhard Simon/Reuters.Harry Kane will try to achieve at Bayern Munich what he was unable to achieve at Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Leonhard Simon/Reuters.

A few steps behind Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are last year’s runners-up Inter Milan, led by Lautaro Martinez, and Barcelona, ​​with a new squad, dare to dream. Some adventurous bettors have been encouraged to place their chips on tournament dark horses Benfica of Portugal, who have reached the quarter-finals in each of the last two editions of the tournament with attractive football and with Ange Strengthened by the return of Jerdi Maria.

On the other hand, not many believe in PSG this time around, a club that has struggled to pursue Champions League goals since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investment Fund in 2011 and struggled last season. They were eliminated early by Bayern Munich in the round of 16. This time, coached by Asturias Enrique, he will face difficult challenges in Group F with Dortmund, Milan, and Newcastle United.

Kylian Mbappe will play in his seventh Champions League campaign in a Paris Saint-Germain jersey. Photo: Michel Euler/AP.Kylian Mbappe will play in his seventh Champions League campaign in a Paris Saint-Germain shirt. Photo: Michel Euler/AP.

The departure of Lionel Messi has the greatest impact on PSG, but not the only one: among the players who abandoned the project (either of their own free will or a decision of the management) are the Brazilian Neymar, the Spaniard Serge Gio Ramos and the Italians. Marco Verratti. Unlike previous years, there were no superstars arriving, but instead some low-profile players such as the Portuguese Gonzalo Ramos or the Korean Lee Kang-in, as well as others trying to restart their careers, such as Osman Den Pele and Spaniard Marco Asensio. All of them will be trying to surround Kylian Mbappe, who may be playing his final season in a France shirt.

Although Messi will not be present, Argentine football will have 20 football players participating in this continental championship, including 9 world champions: Nicolas Otamendi (Benfica), Lisandro Martinez (Manchester United) , Nahuel Molina (Atletico Madrid), Marcos Acuña (Sevilla), Rodrigo De Paul (Atletico Madrid), Julian Alvarez (Manchester City), Angel Di María (Benfica), Angel Correa (Atletico Madrid) and Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan).

Lautaro Martinez is one of nine Argentinian world champions competing in the Champions League. Photo: Massimo Pinca/Reuters.Lautaro Martinez is one of nine Argentinian world champions competing in the Champions League. Photo: Massimo Pinca/Reuters.

The Champions League group stage begins on Tuesday and ends on Wednesday, December 13. In 2024 there will be direct knockout rounds leading up to the final, which will be held at Wembley on 1 June. The London Stadium will host the tournament for the eighth time (the last time was in 2013, when Bayern Munich defeated Borussia Dortmund 2-1).

This is how the first Champions League game went

  • Milan-Newcastle(13.45)
  • Young Boys – Leipzig (13.45)
  • Feyenoord – Celtic (16.00)
  • Lazio-Atletico Madrid(16.00)
  • Paris Saint-Germain-Borussia Dortmund(16.00)
  • Manchester City-Red Star(16.00)
  • Barcelona-Antwerp(16.00)
  • Shakhtar Donetsk – Porto (16.00)
  • Galatasaray-Copenhagen(13.45)
  • Real Madrid – Union Berlin (13.45)
  • Bayern Munich – Manchester United (16.00)
  • Arsenal-PSV Eindhoven(16.00)
  • Sporting Braga – Napoli (16.00)
  • Benfica-Red Bull Salzburg(16.00)
  • Real Sociedad-Inter Milan(16.00)

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