It only seems like five minutes since Kingsley Coman hit the winner for Bayern Munich in last season’s Champions League final to edge a narrow win over Paris Saint-Germain. But Europe’s premier club competition is back and there are going to be some mouthwatering matches over the course of a group stage that is condensed due to COVID-19. Here are the five top games we are looking forward to watching in the Champions League group stage 2020/21.
Five unmissable Champions League group games
Juventus v Barcelona, Group G, October 28
The highlight of the Champions League group stage is in no doubt at all, as old rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi face off once more.
Both clubs are under new leadership this season with Juve putting faith in rookie coach Andrea Pirlo, while Barca turned to Ronald Koeman after Quique Setien failed to impress. Juve and Barca were drawn together in the group stage three years ago. It was goalless in Turin on that occasion and, although they both progressed, each side went out in the quarter-finals.
Ronaldo and Messi are the two top scorers in Champions League history and, with each player approaching the end of their careers, there might not be too many more clashes between them.
Real Madrid v Inter, Group B, November 3
Three-time winners under Zinedine Zidane in his first spell, Real Madrid will be looking to improve on last season’s poor showing, when they lost to Manchester City in the last 16.
Zidane is set to face off against his former Juventus team-mate Antonio Conte in the Champions League group stage this season and, by the third matchday, Group B is likely to be taking shape.
Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Monchengladbach are the other teams in the section, so Madrid and Inter are expected to be jostling for top spot.
This game will show whether either team are serious contenders for the trophy this season.
Paris Saint-Germain v RB Leipzig, Group H, November 24
Group H is probably the toughest this season – Manchester United also landed there – with Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig hoping to maintain last season’s momentum
PSG gave a flat performance against Bayern after reaching the final for the first time while Leipzig made it through to the semi-finals despite being without the outgoing Timo Werner.
Replacing Werner was always expected to be hard for Leipzig but they lead the Bundesliga after four games. Dani Olmo, Tyler Adams and Dayot Upamecano are stars of the future.
For PSG, much will rest on the stardust from Neymar and Kylian Mbappe again, especially with rumours growing that the France forward might join Real Madrid next year.
Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich, Group A, December 1
Moving into December with the fifth round of games next with holders Bayern facing a tricky trip to the Spanish capital to take on Atletico Madrid in the group stage. Robert Lewandowski hit 15 goals to lead the competition’s scoring charts last season but chances could be at a premium here.
Bayern and Atletico last met in the group stages in 2016 with each game ending in a 1-0 home win. That meant Atleti topped the section with Bayern finishing behind them in second.
The addition of Luis Suarez from La Liga rivals Barcelona should add an attacking spark, as well as more of a winning mentality on the grandest of stages, for perennial Champions League dark horses Atleti.
Zenit v Borussia Dortmund, Group F, December 8
Group F might be the most open group this season so there should be something still to play for when Zenit host Dortmund on matchday six.
Artem Dzyuba and Sardar Azmoun have regularly been in the goals for Zenit this season but most football fans will be watching out for Erling Haaland in this one.
Haaland hit 10 Champions League goals last season to announce his name to the world and the 20-year-old holds Dortmund’s best chance of making a splash in this year’s tournament.
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