Who can get to the top…? What could be the surprises? What happened in Barcelona when the bolillero put together his group? A chronicle by Jorge Barraza on the draw for the 2022-2023 Champions League groups
- “Reynoso has to adapt to the football that Peru always did. You won't find macheteros here”
- Champions League 2022 – 2023: find out the keys and pairings for the group stage
Champions League 2022 – 2023: know the keys and pairings
When the bolillero put Barcelona together with Bayern Munich in group C it was like a good part from Catalonia choked on rice. FC Barcelona, the club with the worst record and the most spend in the world (by far), has managed to mortgage itself a little more with its financial levers to build a new team that will finally allow it to compete without shame in the European Champions League, in which he has stringed together a number of paperbacks in series.
And Barcelona fans were happy, excited about Lewandowski, Raphinha and Koundé… until the ball indicated that they must share an area with that ogre that is Bayern, who has made life impossible for them over time: out of 13 matches they win 9 to 2. And he gave him, just two years ago, the most humiliating defeat in his history: the famous 8 to 2 in Lisbon. The kind of embarrassments that become ephemeris. It is the morbid group. And double morbidity, because, apart from the new Barça-Bayern clash, it will force Robert Lewandowski to return to Munich, from where he left like those who move at night. There you will see the reception given by the fans in Bavaria. That he does not augur very affectionate. As the recovered Inter Milan also fell into that combo, in addition to being a morbid group, it is also the group of death
Last Thursday the draw took place that grouped the 32 contenders into eight compartments of four. Surely there has never been a Champions League group stage as attractive as the one that will begin on September 6. If the queen of club competitions in the world has an intrinsic charm due to its impact, quality of play and staging, this edition surpasses any other due to the stellar names that make it up. There will be fourteen champions exhibiting their prestige: Real Madrid, Milan, Bayern, Liverpool, Barcelona, Ajax, Inter, Juventus, Benfica, Chelsea, Porto, Celtic, Olympique de Marseille and Borussia Dortmund. Seven runners-up: Atlético de Madrid, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bruges, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham, Paris Saint Germain and Manchester City. And three other big players: Rangers, Sporting Lisbon and Napoli. In other words, twenty-four heavyweights in dispute. Impossible to ask for a more impressive painting.
The note is that Portugal, which is not considered among the five main leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France) managed to place its three banners in this instance -Porto, Benfica and Sporting -, while France barely qualified two -PSG and Marseille-, just like the small but always respectable Scottish football, which scored with its giants Celtic and Rangers.
Except for box F, a true chocolate ice cream for Real Madrid (shared with Leipzig, Shaktar Donetsk and Celtic), the others look even, although none are without surprises, given the advent of total intensity as a style. game, which equalizes potentialities. Any team that runs and fights non-stop, with energy and aggressiveness, pressure and speed, reduces the rival's greatest capabilities and equalizes. We are seeing it in Europe more and more frequently, and especially in England. Modest formations like Crystal Palace, Fulham, Brentford, can be nightmares for the powerful. It's what's coming. Or what has already arrived.
Two groups that appear interesting and could be very tricky are A (Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli and Rangers) and H (PSG, Juventus, Benfica and Maccabi Haifa). In the first, Liverpool will have a lot of competition in Napoli, which was reinforced at a millionaire cost and wants to make a European coup; at Ajax, which is always the top of important football and on a good footing like the Dutch, and at Rangers, recent runner-up in the Europa League, very excited to return to the Champions League after twelve years. Rangers is a Scottish giant, with a phenomenal crowd, and they never go to parades. Attention to that quatrain.
The H brings together Paris Saint Germain, Juventus, the Benfica of the unforgettable Eusebio and the Israeli Maccabi Haifa, a regular in European cups, although this will only be his third time since the group stage. Benfica, now without the goals of the remarkable Darwin Núñez, is still dangerous. Another beautiful and even group will be D, with Eintracht, Tottenham, Sporting Lisbon (the great producer of Portuguese talent), and Olympique Marseille, the only French European champion in 67 years of the European Cup.
< p itemprop="description" class="story-contents__font-paragraph">Who can get to the top…? Bayern are always the dentist in this game, no one wants to deal with them. Fearsome, applied, rocky, aggressive, very German, by the way… Lewandowski left, but he wonderfully replaced him with Sadio Mané. Real Madrid, by tradition, winning mentality, by Benzema, by his steel defense and, in general, by his magnificent individuality and by that god who always accompanies him when he is on the precipice. They are the two favorites according to this chronicler. Then, one step behind, we would place Chelsea, very compact, with a vast and qualified squad and an excellent coach like Thomas Tuchel. We see PSG on a similar level, whose face Christophe Galtier has changed in just four games. He is stronger in defense -with three centre-backs-, more dynamic in midfield, he looks dominant and has a lot of offensive power: he has scored 21 goals in four games. Mbappé is still at a hellish level and they raised a lot of Neymar and Messi. Nothing to do with Pochettino's PSG. This is a much improved version.
Liverpool, which, although it started badly in the Premier, will be a very tough rival for everyone in a field that is conducive to it, the international one. He hired a crack -Darwin Núñez- although he felt horror at Mané's departure. Guardiola's City always seems to be a candidate, but despite incorporating the phenomenonHaaland, has transferred a bunch of players and was left with a reduced squad, of just 17 field elements. Strangely short for the four tournaments he has to play at the same time. None of them can catch a cold.
Any surprises…? First of all, we point to Antonio Conte's Tottenham. Already freed to a large extent from the expenses of the colossal stadium and the fantastic training center, according to Osvaldo Ardiles “the best in the world of its kind”, he focused on putting together a cutting-edge machine. Harry Kane and Son added Richarlison in attack. He has a large crew and a winning manager. It is necessary to see how the way is given to him from eighths onwards. If it arrives… Then there will be a Milan rejuvenated and renewed compared to recent years (signed the Belgian De Katelaere, a star pigeon whose last name doesn't help), Juve and Barsa, monumental clubs that always have things to say.
The undoubted thing is that we are facing a novel tournament. We already rubbed our hands in front of the TV and listened to the little music: “La Champiooooons…”