Possible groups of death
There is always at least one group which makes everybody wince — not least those associated with the drawn clubs — and this year the chances are strong of a possible all-timer. With Real and Arsenal in the second pot, Milan in the third and some tricky customers in the fourth pot as well, there might well be few — if any — of the supposed “easy draws” that some bigger clubs are often accused of landing. With some of these clubs in mind, as well as City, PSG, Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the top seeds, we have concocted some dastardly potential group scenarios.
Possibility 1: Man City, Real Madrid, Milan and Lens or Union Berlin.
If this comes to pass, poor Lens who are returning to the Champions League for the first time since 2002-03. The cult French club would bring plenty of color and fight to a scenario like this one, but City, Real and Milan is about as tough as it could get for Franck Haise’s men. Union Berlin, who do not boast the same continental pedigree as Ligue 1 runners-up Lens, could also land the same draw which would represent a baptism of fire for the popular Bundesliga outfit.
Possibility 2: Barcelona, Arsenal, Milan and Lens or Union Berlin.
Another potentially unenviable mission for either Lens or Union Berlin who could see themselves drawn against Barcelona, Arsenal and Milan. Again, it would be another group dripping with pedigree with some of Europe’s most established names assembled. However, there is arguably a case to be made that this sort of combination might actually enable the team from the fourth pot to at least hope to be competitive while the first possibility pretty much paints them as potential cannon fodder.
Possibility 3: PSG, Real, Milan and Newcastle or Union Berlin.
The stakes will be high when PSG are drawn into their group and then run the gauntlet to see who they will be up against. In what could prove to be a cruel twist of fate, there is a scenario which could see the French champions land on Real, Milan and Newcastle which could create two phenomenal pieces of narrative while posing a major challenge. The Spanish giants are longtime suitors for Kylian Mbappe who is currently into the final 12 months of his contract and has only just been reintegrated into the senior setup in Paris. Also, Qatar-owned PSG could find themselves up against… Saudi-backed Newcastle. This again features Milan who have by far the greatest prestige and pedigree from the third pot.
Possibility 4: Bayern, Real, Milan and Newcastle or Lens.
Another intriguing possibility could feature German champions Bayern Munich pairing with familiar foes Real and Milan before Newcastle or Lens are thrown into the mix. The Magpies are particularly tricky to come up against given their strong showing in the Premier League and the incredible atmosphere generated at St James’ Park on big European nights. Given Newcastle’s Saudi-backing and Bayern’s proud and traditional history which rails against state-owned clubs, such a pairing has the potential to be incendiary should it come to pass.