UEFA Champions League Draw: Five Must-see Group Games

Cristiano Ronaldo during the Serie A match against Lazio on August 25 at the Allianz Stadium in Turin. Marco Bertorello/AFP/Getty Images

The draw for the Champions League group stages is always an eagerly awaited occasion, and this year it did not disappoint.

From Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester, to Liverpool landing in the proverbial "Group of Death" and Tottenham Hotspur facing a Spanish giant for the second consecutive season, the draw had something for everyone.

Here's five must-see matches.

Liverpool vs Paris Saint-Germain, September 18

Beaten finalists last season, Liverpool can count themselves unlucky to end in a group containing PSG and Napoli. For all their lavish spending, European glory continues to elude the French champions, while the Serie A outfit are the perennial outsiders in Europe.

With the exception of Real Madrid, nobody could live with the Reds' cavalier soccer in Europe last season and their new-found defensive solidity—Liverpool are yet to concede in the Premier League—could go a long way to help them get out of the group.

PSG's trip to Anfield will be billed as Mohamed Salah vs Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but there are many interesting subplots—not least the fact Jurgen Klopp will face Thomas Tuchel, who replaced him in the dugout at both Mainz and Borussia Dortmund.

Manchester United vs Juventus, October 23

Cristiano Ronaldo's returns to Manchester, while Paul Pogba goes back to Turin in the mirror match, but the former is arguably the story of the draw.

During six seasons at United, the Portuguese developed from a promising teenager into the best player in the world, scoring 118 goals in 292 appearances in all competitions and leading United to a hat-trick of Premier League titles and a Champions League crown.

Still idolized in Manchester, Ronaldo's surprising move to Juventus in the summer embodied both the Bianconeri's desire to capture a first Champions League since 1996 and his constant push to prove himself.

Since leaving United, Ronaldo has been drawn against United just once, scoring in both legs as Real Madrid knocked out his former club. Madrid were then managed by Jose Mourinho, who can expect a torrid reception in Turin after leading arch-rivals Inter Milan to a hat-trick of trophies in the 2009-10 season–an unprecedented feat in Italian soccer.

Borussia Dortmund vs Atletico Madrid, October 24

Two contrasting styles collide as Borussia Dortmund's "attack now, defend later" approach crosses the path of Diego Simeone's perfectly drilled Atletico side.

Atletico have bought well this summer, adding Thomas Lemar—who will face his former club Monaco—to an already strong squad. The fact the final will be hosted at their new home provides an interesting incentive.

Ironically, all of the four clubs in Group A have played a European Cup/Champions League final, but all them have ended on the losing side.

Roma vs Real Madrid, November 27

The Stadio Olimpico in Rome accounted for Barcelona's hopes of winning the Champions League last season, as Roma trounced the Catalans 3-0 to overturn the 4-1 defeat they suffered in the first leg. The other half of Spanish soccer's duopoly arrives in the Eternal City this season and the Giallorossi will fancy their chances of causing another major upset.

Roma lost Radja Nainggolan to Inter Milan and Alisson to Liverpool in the summer but have added plenty of stardust at the other end of the pitch, in the shape of Javier Pastore and Justin Kluivert.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, became the first team since Ajax and Bayern Munich in the 1970s to win the trophy three times in a row, but endured a tumultuous summer. Zinedine Zidane stepped down and Cristiano Ronaldo swapped Madrid for Turin. A fourth consecutive triumph appears unlikely but both sides should have enough to progress ahead of CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen.

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Sergio Ramos (C) holds the Champions League trophy after Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26. Lluis Gene/AFP/Getty Images

Barcelona vs Tottenham Hotspur, December 11

Much like Roma, Tottenham also basked in the glory of defeating one of the giants of Spanish soccer last season, beating Real Madrid 3-1 at home. The assignment doesn't get any easier for Mauricio Pochettino's men, who will travel to the Camp Nou with qualification potentially on the line on matchday six.

Despite the arrivals of Malcolm and Arturo Vidal, Barcelona don't necessarily look a stronger side than the one that crumbled in the quarter-finals last season. Even so, a team containing Lionel Messi remains capable of anything.

Under Pochettino, Spurs have grown in stature to go head-to-head with the Premier League heavyweights and last season they showed they can handle themselves in Europe. Stages don't come any bigger than facing Barcelona away from home and Spurs' response will tell a lot about them.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

About the writer

Dan Cancian is currently a reporter for Newsweek based in London, England. Prior to joining Newsweek in January 2018, he was a news and business reporter at International Business Times UK. Dan has also written for The Guardian and The Observer. 

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