Champions League: What are the groups, schedules, and favourite contenders for the final?

Image Source: Getty Images/ Valerio Pennicino – UEFA/UEFA

As the group stage begins this week, Manchester City begins the defence of their Champions League championship.

Arsenal, Manchester United, and Newcastle, who are returning to the Premier League after a 20-year hiatus, are also part of Pep Guardiola’s team. Celtic, the reigning Scottish champion, is also participating in the group stage for the second time in a row.

Detailed information regarding the 2023–24 Champions League is provided below by 5Times.

Which group in the Champions League has the hardest opponents?

Bayern Munich, a dominant force in Germany, is clearly a problem for United. However, United will believe they have enough to advance because Group A also includes FC Copenhagen and Galatasaray.

Newcastle fell in the challenging Group F and will face off against teams such as French champion Paris St. Germain, Italian powerhouse AC Milan, and former Champions League champion Borussia Dortmund.

With games against RB Leipzig, Red Star Belgrade, and Young Boys, City will be confident that they can easily advance from Group G.

Celtic is in a strong group that includes Feyenoord, Atletico Madrid, and Lazio, while Sevilla, PSV Eindhoven, and Lens are set to be Sevilla’s opponents in the Europa League.

Which big-name players will be absent from the Champions League?

For years, it was expected that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi would play on the biggest stage in European club football, but neither will appear in the Champions League this year.

While Messi is playing for Inter Miami in the United States, Ronaldo, one of the first well-known athletes to relocate to Saudi Arabia, plays for Al Nassr. In addition to Ronaldo, Neymar and Karim Benzema are also missing since they are playing in the Saudi Pro League. Both of them are employed at Al Hilal and Al-Ittihad.

Even so, we’ll still get to watch some of the best names in football, such as France forward Kylian Mbappe and City’s record-breaking goal scorer Erling Haaland.

What’s the Champions League schedule?

Matchday 1: 19-20 September

Matchday 2: 3-4 October

Matchday 3: 24-25 October

Matchday 4: 7-8 November

Matchday 5: 28-29 November

Matchday 6: 12-13 December

Last 16: 13-14, 20-21 February 2024 and 5-6, 12-13 March

Quarter-finals: 9-10, 16-17 April

Semi-finals: 30 April, 1 May, 7-8 May

Final: 1 June

The Champions League final will be held where?

This year’s championship game will take place at Wembley Stadium in London.

Who are the teams favoured to win the Champions League?

Simulations based on Gracenote’s Euro Club Index have City ahead of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich as the favourites to win the Champions League.

City has a 37% probability of winning, Real has a 13% chance, Bayern has an 11% possibility, and there is a 19% chance that the trophy will bear a new name. At least 90% of teams, including City, Real, Bayern, and Barcelona, are likely to advance to the round of 16.

When will the format of the Champions League change?

With significant changes coming in 2024–25, this will be the final year of the current format, which has 32 teams in the group phase divided into eight groups of four, with the top two moving on to the last 16.

With 36 teams participating in the new structure, two of the four extra spots will go to nations whose clubs had the greatest seasons in the previous tournament.

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