The Champions League, widely regarded as the most prestigious club competition globally, is fast approaching its 2023/24 edition.
This upcoming season will mark the final instalment of the current format, wherein 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four. However, in the subsequent season, the group stage will witness an expansion, accommodating four additional teams.
In the previous campaign, Manchester City emerged as the European champions, clinching the coveted treble of the Champions League, Premier League, and FA Cup
under the guidance of Pep Guardiola. This victory marked the 15th time an English team had triumphed in the tournament, with Spain being the only nation to have produced more champions, boasting a total of 21 past successes.
As the tournament progresses, one question looms large: who will hoist the trophy at Wembley Stadium on 1 June 2024? Let us delve into the realm of potential contenders in the group stage outings of the competition.
Champions League 2023/24 Winner: At The Sportsbook
If we judge a potential Champions League winner from a betting perspective, we must evaluate the expert opinion of the oddsmakers:
- Manchester City – 9/4
- Bayern Munich – 11/2
- Real Madrid – 8/1
- Arsenal – 10/1
- Barcelona – 14/1
- PSG – 16/1
- Manchester United – 20/1
- Atletico Madrid – 25/1
- Napoli – 28/1
- Inter Milan – 28/1
Although most critics, fans, and sports bettors find the ultimate joy in predicting a competition winner, it isn’t easy to gauge which squads can lift the prestigious trophy when the Champions League group stage is yet completed.
As we’re a long way from the UCL final sixteen, let’s preview groups A to H as we share our educated opinions on which clubs we expect to succeed in winning their respective groups.
Champions League 2023/24 Group Stage Winners
UEFA Champions League Group A
- Bayern Munich
- Manchester United
Projected Winner: Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich and Manchester United are the dominant teams in Group A, and they are expected to advance to the knockout stages ahead of Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen. Manchester United has had a negative experience facing Bayern Munich in their previous European encounters. Bayern Munich possesses the strongest team in this group. With the addition of Harry Kane and United’s current domestic form, they’re the most likely to excel and progress atop Group A.
Although Manchester United has faced setbacks in recent seasons, they should secure a position in the round of 16 if all their players remain uninjured. Copenhagen is the weakest team in the group and is expected to finish in fourth place, while Galatasaray can aim for a spot in the UEFA Europa League.
UEFA Champions League Group B
Projected Winner: Arsenal
Mikel Arteta and Arsenal find themselves in a situation that could have been better or worse. With their strong European track record, Sevilla will provide a tough challenge, although most of their success has come in the Europa League.
While PSV’s victory over Rangers in the preliminary round was impressive, it is worth noting that the Scottish club game has declined, and Rangers have had a poor start to the season. Lens, who gave PSG a tough fight in Ligue 1 last season, should not be underestimated either.
It is expected that Arsenal will advance to the knockout rounds, while Lens and Sevilla will compete for the second and third spots.
UEFA Champions League Group C
- Real Madrid
- Union Berlin
Projected Winner: Real Madrid
Real Madrid, who were champions two seasons ago and have won the trophy a total of 14 times, are consistently considered strong contenders to win this competition.
Despite recent speculation linking him to the Brazil job, Carlo Ancelotti remains in charge. The experienced Italian coach has already won this tournament four times in the past, showcasing his understanding of what it takes to come out on top.
Although Karim Benzema will be absent this season, Real Madrid has already secured the signing of Joselu and will likely be searching for another established goal-scorer to strengthen their attack.
The rest of the team appears to be formidable, particularly in midfield, where Jude Bellingham has joined an already talented group of players. And although Napoli are the champions of Italy, it’s difficult to undermine the potential of Los Blancos coming out of Group C on top.
UEFA Champions League Group D
- Inter Milan
- RB Salsburg
- Real Sociedad
Projected Winner: Inter Milan
Group D of the competition appears to be highly unpredictable due to the presence of strong teams such as Benfica, Inter Milan, FC Salzburg, and Real Sociedad. Inter Milan’s outstanding performance in the previous season gives them a slight advantage over the others. However, the Italian powerhouse has experienced significant departures of key players during the summer transfer window. It is expected that Benfica, the reigning champions of Portugal, will likely progress alongside Inter Milan to the knockout stage from this group.
UEFA Champions League Group E
- Atletico Madrid
Projected Winner: Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid has a favourable opportunity to secure a seeded position for the knockout stage in one of the most unpredictable groups of the competition. The team’s success at home will play a crucial role, and their manager, Diego Simeone, has a proven track record in this aspect.
Although Lazio went unnoticed last year and achieved a second-place finish in Serie A, they have had a disappointing start to the season. To advance to the knockout stage, they must rectify their current situation. Fortunately for the Italian side, they only need to overcome Feyenoord and Celtic, which should be manageable given their opponents’ limited threat.
The second position in this group is up for grabs, but with the Irish immigration link to the Scottish giants Celtic, perhaps some luck could fall their way. As an outside future wager, we expect a lot of interest in Celtic, particularly with free bets Ireland.
UEFA Champions League Group F
- Borussia Dortmund
- AC Milan
- Newcastle Unite
Projected Winner: PSG
Newcastle’s return to the Champions League group stage after a 21-year absence didn’t result in a straightforward qualification for the knockouts. However, they did secure an exciting draw that brought glamour to their campaign.
With Neymar leaving PSG and Kylian Mbappé remaining, albeit for just one more season, the French giants enter a new era after their galáctico phase. The extent of their realism and Luis Enrique’s ability to eradicate the culture of indulgence that has plagued the club for years will be a captivating aspect to watch in the early stages of this season.
Borussia Dortmund might face challenges in this campaign due to the emotional turmoil caused by losing the Bundesliga on the final day of the previous season. Additionally, the departures of Jude Bellingham and Raphaël Guerreiro further complicate matters.
On the other hand, Milan has started the Serie A season strongly with three wins in three games. Notably, Olivier Giroud has scored three goals, Christian Pulisic has scored two, and Ruben Loftus- Cheek has settled in well.
It’s labelled the “Group of Death” for a reason, so predicting a winner isn’t easy. However, it’s difficult to ignore Paris taking this one home if we’re looking at squad depth.
UEFA Champions League Group G
- Man City
- RB Leipzig
- Crvena Zvezda
- Young Boys
Projected Winner: Manchester City
Manchester City received a highly favourable draw in Monaco during the Champions League group stage draw, which could be considered a dream scenario for them.
As the reigning champions, they will be up against RB Leipzig, a team they convincingly defeated in the last-16 home match last season, with Erling Haaland
scoring an impressive five goals. While Leipzig is still a respectable team, their recent loss of their top two players, defender Josko Gvardiol to Man City and playmaker Christopher Nkunku to Chelsea, has weakened their overall strength. Additionally, Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys, the other two teams in the group, are regarded as the weakest sides in the draw.
Manchester City has undoubtedly been fortunate with this draw. Manager Pep Guardiola will have the opportunity to rotate his squad easily, and the European champions will likely secure qualification for the last 16 at an early stage. Even for Leipzig, this draw is favourable, given the relatively lower level of competition from the other two teams in the group. The German side will strongly believe in their chances of progressing further in the tournament.
UEFA Champions League Group H
- Shakhtar Donetsk
Projected Winner: Bayern Munich
Given Barcelona’s previous placement in a group alongside Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, the current setup appears to be more advantageous. With the potential for greater separation in La Liga before the Champions League matches gain significance, Barcelona can allocate more attention to this competition.
FC Porto has achieved an impressive start in Portugal’s Primeira Liga, securing three victories. While Shakhtar Donetsk caused some surprises in last year’s group stage, they may potentially spring more upsets here. However, I predict that Barcelona and Porto will accomplish their respective objectives.