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UEFA Champions League draw: Messi-Ronaldo clash, Chelsea and Manchester United’s journey between winners and losers



After the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, it is time to choose the winners and losers after the 32 teams have been drawn into eight groups of four. Some clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea have achieved very favorable draws, while other clubs such as Manchester United will sweat in six tough matches with the hope of moving on to the knockout stage.

Here are the winners and losers:

Winners: fans of this sport

Look, the Champions League is an unparalleled spectacle in club football. Every match can produce magical moments, and you can watch every match this season on CBS All Access. But the main reason fans are the winners is because we see the rivalry between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo renewed in two games … and maybe even more. Messi̵

7;s Barcelona was included in the same group as Ronaldo’s Juventus. The two teams are in Group G with Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros.

They will be played once in Barcelona and once in Turin, and if they advance to the group stage, who can say they won’t see each other again sooner or later?

There’s nothing like Messi against Ronaldo, and now we find him for the first time since Ronaldo left for Italy two seasons ago.

Losers: Manchester United and RB Leipzig

Tricky draw for two teams with enough quality to make a run. I am in Group H with finalist PSG and a quality team in Istanbul Basaksehir. Logic says PSG wins the group, which means at least one of Man. United or RB Leipzig will be eliminated, with that team expected to go to the Europa League.

At the moment, RB Leipzig has the slight advantage due to Man. United’s lack of consistency, but it is a very open group PSG probably need not worry about, but United and Leipzig do.

Winner: Chelsea’s long-term plans

Quite favorable group for Frank Lampard’s team in obtaining Sevilla, Krasnodar and Rennes. If the Blues don’t get out of that group … there should be huge repercussions. The Blues have started the Premier League season on a positive note, but we can’t really see the full potential of this team until they are in good health. That means getting Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech back and giving them some time to freeze all together, with Timo Werner and Kai Havertz now at the club. This weak Chelsea group gives them some leeway, because even if they aren’t that healthy, they should still move on.

Expect the Blues to enter the knockout stage and, if healthy and fit, run.

Loser: RB Salzburg … again

Poor Jesse Marsch. The American coach took his team into the group stage last season, becoming the first American manager to manage that part of the competition. He was then grouped with some tough teams including Liverpool and Napoli. The Austrian team almost managed to get out of the group stage, but things look very different this season with the starts. The club lost superstar striker Erling Haaland in January to Dortmund, and now faces Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in the group stage.

Marsch will feel like he and his team can overcome – that’s just the positivity and ambition of his team. But this group, which also includes Lokomotiv Moscow, is as complicated as possible.

Winners: Hungarian champions

Chances are you haven’t even heard of club Ferencvaros before this week, but it’s the Hungarian champions who are back in the UCL group stage for the first time in a quarter of a century. They have almost no chance to advance, but expect them to accept it, play with pride, and take it all. Here is a Budapest-based club with little international experience that will also welcome Messi and Barcelona as well as Ronaldo and Juventus to their stadium, while also playing them away.

Losers: Real Madrid

I think Real Madrid will advance from Group B, but this is a difficult group. The Blancos will play Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter and a very strong Borussia Monchengladbach, and if Zinedine Zidane’s side show any inconsistency, they may just have to sweat. Real have produced some surprising results over the past two years at UCL, including drawing at Club Brugge after losing 2-0 a year ago. It won’t be easy and they may be in a bit of a struggle if this team is out of sync and continues to deal with injury issues.




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