The Champions League is back and La Liga has five representatives getting ready to compete in it. In an era where it’s fashionable to be dismissive, only the cold-hearted could fail to get excited when considering the feast of football ahead.
Atletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla are in the mix once again, as are Villarreal courtesy of their victory over Manchester United in the Europa League last season. Much of the rhetoric over the summer has been that La Liga is dead, and it has been stunned by the loss of Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos. But each of the five aforementioned clubs will be determined to prove that they can still compete amongst the elite of the elite.
Atletico face Portuguese side Porto at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday. They’re in a mouthwatering group that also contains Italian side Milan and Premier League side Liverpool, who Diego Simeone’s men know well at this stage.
Barcelona have the small task of German side Bayern Munich ahead of them, with the tie set to take place at Camp Nou tomorrow evening. Also in the Catalan club’s group is Portuguese side Benfica and Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv.
Madrid have a familiar foe ahead of them this Wednesday evening; Italian side Inter. They travel to San Siro to lock horns with the club who won last season’s Scudetto. Also in their group are Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk and Moldovan side Sheriff.
Sevilla welcome Austrian side Salzburg to the Sanchez-Pizjuan down in the heart of Andalusia tomorrow evening. Also in their group are French side Lille, who beat Paris Saint-Germain to Ligue Un last season, and German side Wolfsburg. It’s undoubtedly the kindest-looking group of any Spanish side.
Villarreal welcome Italian side Atalanta to La Ceramica tomorrow evening, and are preparing themselves for a tough group as they ready themselves for life at European football’s top table. As well as Atalanta they’ve been paired with English side United, who they beat to win the Europa League last season, and Swiss side Young Boys, who know their way around the Champions League.
The Champions League is notoriously hard to predict, but one can look to La Liga to see how each side is shaping up; if you’re keen to take a punt on how each club will do domestically this season, see here for some of the best La Liga odds. Madrid are currently top of the table, with Atletico in third. Sevilla, Barcelona and Villarreal have all played a game fewer than the two from the capital; they’re in sixth, seventh and eleventh respectively.