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Barcelona Gets the Group of Death, As Champions League Draw Is Announced

Some have it easy, some not so much.

The Champions League is underway! Not officially, but at least now we know who will be facing who when the biggest club tournament in Europe officially starts - which is actually very, very soon.

Yes, the Champions League returns in just a few weeks, with a very different schedule than years past. The group stage will be played over nine weeks, instead of the typical twelve, and the knockout stages won’t start till February of next year, with the final being played in Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istambul on June 10, 2023. The reason? The FIFA World Cup is set to be played in November and December of this year.

But who will be playing who starting September 6th? The groups have been decided, and then don’t look great for Barcelona, in particular.

Here’s the breakdown:

Group A: Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli, Rangers

Group B: FC Porto, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Club Brugge

Group C: Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plzen

Group D: Eintracht Frankfurt, Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting CP, Marseille

Group E: AC Milan, Chelsea, FC Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb

Group F: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk, Celtic

Group G: Manchester City, Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund, Copenhagen

Group H: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Benfica, Maccabi Haifa

Group C is clearly the Group of Death out of all of them, with Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Inter Milan looking – on paper – strong enough to win the group, and with only two qualifying that means Barcelona, which is already carrying a lot of controversy going into the season, has an uphill battle not just to possibly win their group, but to even advance to the knockout stages.

After that, Group H looks complicated two, despite the fact that Juventus doesn’t exactly look in top form right now. The season is long, and there’s still time for the Italian side to compete with PSG and Benfica.

Most of the other groups look accessible, with E having AC Milan and Chelsea as clear favorites to advance, while B looking like Atletico Madrid’s to lose. But the shortened format of the competition might be an advantage for some, and a disadvantage for others. One thing is for sure, everyone whose national team has a real chance at the World Cup will want to be in top form for that tournament, which might mean the Champions League will be relegated to a secondary objective this season. We’re looking at you, Lionel Messi.

But come to knockout stages, players coming back from successful World Cup runs, or players who had a great tournament might carry that into when it counts the most. So yes, for now, things look complicated for a few teams (there has to be a Group of Death, such are the rules of football), but once the teams take the field, anything can happen.