Champions League 2022-23 Draw: Group of death, Lewandowski's nightmare, Haaland's 'home coming' and more
Europe's top football clubs on Thursday discovered their Group Stage rivals for the Champions League 2022-23 as the race to Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, gets underway.
On Thursday, Europe's top football clubs discovered their Group Stage rivals for the Champions League 2022-23 as the race to Atatürk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul, gets underway. 32 club's fate was sealed at the draw this year, and it will be a straight sprint with the six group games all squeezed into under two months because of the Qatar World Cup.
Group of Death: Group C
Dubbed the Group of Death, the Group C of the Champions League 2022-23 draw features Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen. Here's how Twitter reacted to Group C:
The draw would be a nightmare for Polish superstar Robert Lewandowski, who moved from Bayern Munich to Barcelona in the summer transfer window after a high-octane drama.
Since moving to Camp Nou, the 33-year-old has not held back his appreciation for his time with the Bavarians. However, Lewandowski has admitted that facing his former club in the Champions League 2022-23 Group stages would be a 'weird feeling'.
"No! It doesn't have to be in the group stage. That's too early, and it would be a weird feeling for me," Lewandowski told Sport Bild earlier this month. "My wish for the draw is: please not the ball with Bayern," he added.
Lewandowski's nightmare has come true as Barcelona will face his former club in the Group C clash. The Polish icon hopes for a cordial welcome upon arrival at Allianz Arena. "I don't know. I hope [I'm received] positively. I'll only have positive memories from my time at Bayern. My story with FC Bayern will always remain in my heart," he said in an earlier interview.
Cakewalk for reigning champions Real Madrid?
Reigning champions Real Madrid, who lifted the trophy last season for the 14th time in their history, have been drawn in Group F alongside RB Leipzig, Shaktar Donetsk and Celtic.
The Los Blancos' superstar and UEFA Men's Player of the Year 2021-22 Karim Benzema will remain the player to watch out for after the Frenchman's memorable hat-tricks against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Chelsea, as well as contributing essential goals against City both home and away last season.
In the end, Benzema netted 15 times during the Champions League 2021-22 campaign - more than anybody else - as he won the competition for the fifth time. The 34-year-old has 325 goals now for Real Madrid and counting.
Premier League club's interesting draw mix
As for the English Premier League clubs, Tottenham Hotspur has been handed an extremely kind draw. Antonio Conte's resurgent side will face Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting Lisbon and Marseille in what looks like a dream Group D.
Last year's finalists, Liverpool, were given potentially the most challenging task of the English clubs, drawn alongside Ajax, Napoli and Rangers in Group A.
Premier League champions Manchester City's sensational striker Erling Haaland will return to former club Borussia Dortmund when the sides meet in a Group G clash. The 22-year-old, who had a prolific stint with the German side, would hope to receive a hero's welcome at his 'home coming'. Here's how some of his fans reacted on Twitter:
Juventus an obstacle for star-studded PSG?
The star-studded Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), which includes sensational players like Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar in their attack department, will hope to reach the summit of the European podium this season. Christophe Galtier's men have been drawn against Juventus, Benfica and M. Haifa.
Last season, the Parisian club was a victim of a staggering Real Madrid comeback. They led the Los Blancos 2-0 on aggregate with just half-an-hour left of their last-16 tie but Karim Benzema's hat-trick sent them tumbling out prematurely once again.
The 2020 final defeat to Bayern Munich, during the Covid restart, is the closest PSG has ever gotten to winning the Champions League, despite the millions of dollars their Qatari owners have spent on and off the field. Having stunned Real Madrid by rejecting them to commit his future to the Ligue 1 champions, Mbappe needs to get down to the business of winning that European trophy for them.
Champions League 2022-23 Group Stages Draw Results:
Group A: Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli, Rangers
Group B: Atletico Madrid, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge.
Group C: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzen.
Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille.
Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea, Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb.
Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic.
Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, FC Copenhagen.
Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Benfica, Maccabi Haifa.