The 2018-19 UEFA Champions League draw served up several juicy matchups on Thursday, including a tremendous Group H that will have fans salivating. Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia and Young Boys will battle it out for a spot in the next round.
Group G also looks tough to call, with defending champions Real Madrid, last year’s semi-finalists AS Roma, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen drawn together. Group C looks like another potential Group of Death, with Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade facing off.
The first round of fixtures will be on 18 and 19 September, with five more rounds to follow. The full dates below:
Round 1: 18-19 September
Round 2: 2-3 October
Round 3: 23-24 October
Round 4: 6-7 November
Round 5: 27-28 November
Round 6: 11-12 December
The draw for the round of 16 will be on December 17, per UEFA’s official website.
Former U.S. international Jimmy Conrad shared the full results of the draw
#ChampionsLeague Group Stages Are Set!
A: Atleti Dortmund Monaco Brugge
B: Barca Spurs PSV Inter
C: PSG Napoli Liverpool Crvena
D: L. Moscow Porto Schalke Gala
E: Bayern Benfica Ajax AEK
F: City Shahktar OL Hoffenheim
G: Madrid Roma CSKA Plzen
H: Juve Man Utd Valencia Y. Boys
— Jimmy Conrad (@JimmyConrad) August 30, 2018
Group H will see several reunions, as United and Juventus―two of Europe’s most storied teams―will meet twice.
Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford, where he emerged as one of the world’s best, while Paul Pogba will see his old Bianconeri team-mates again. Fans were ecstatic
Manchester United's record v Juventus:
– Five wins
– Five losses
– Two draws
Pogba, Ronaldo, Mourinho v Allegri.
Going to be brilliant!
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) August 30, 2018
Behind those two, Valencia are no pushovers. Los Che were among Spain’s most exciting attacking teams last year, and they started the season by holding European Super Cup winners Atletico Madrid to a draw. Young Boys ended FC Basel’s run of dominance in Switzerland last year and shouldn’t be overlooked, either.
While Group H looks like a possible Group of Death, Group C could give it a run for its money. PSG are the Ligue 1 champions, while Liverpool made it to last year’s final and Napoli play some of the best attacking football in all of Europe.
The Partenopei have been excellent early in the Serie A campaign, despite losing manager Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea. The Reds may have crushed them in pre-season, but that was well before Napoli reached their peak form.
Add to that Red Star, who have a fierce home reputation, and PSG, who have put together a phenomenal squad with a nearly limitless budget, and you get a tantalising group for the Reds
The whole point of being in the Champions League is playing really good teams, having great nights at home and exciting trips away – Group C fulfills those categories perfectly. Neymar, Napoli and Belgrade. Lovely stuff.
— Sachin Nakrani (@SachinNakrani) August 30, 2018
Barcelona also won’t have it easy against an ever-improving Tottenham Hotspur team and two resurgent sides in Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven. Both the Italian and Dutch teams have huge expectations coming into the season.
Premier League champions Manchester City will be the clear favourites in a balanced Group F, where Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon and Hoffenheim are all strong candidates to advance.
Group A is packed with teams who have taken the fight to the established hierarchy in recent years, with Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, AS Monaco and Club Brugge. The Belgians beat Standard and Anderlecht to their domestic title in a close play-off race last year, qualifying directly for the group stages.