FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad and Sevilla FC now know who they’ll be facing, following Thursday’s group stage draw.
The group stage draw for the 2023/24 Champions League took place in Monaco on Thursday, and there were five Spanish clubs in the mix. With FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad having qualified through last season’s league positions and with Sevilla also participating in the top continental competition as reigning Europa League champions, La Liga has more representatives than any other league.
Now that these five clubs have learned who they’ll be facing over the coming months, here comes a guide explaining what to expect from the Spanish teams.
While Sevilla FC are better known for their successes in the Europa League, which they won for the seventh time last season after coming third in their 2022/23 Champions League group, the Andalusian club will give their all to try to progress to the knockout rounds of the top UEFA competition.
Although this is Sevilla FC’s fourth season in a row in the Champions League group stage, it will be coach Jose Luis Mendilibar’s first experience of this tournament. Incredibly, he still hasn’t lost a match in a major UEFA competition, as Los Nervionenses won two and drew three of his five European games last season, as they conquered Manchester United, Juventus and Roma on their way to Europa League glory, while they drew 1-1 with Manchester City in this year’s UEFA Super Cup, before a penalty shootout decided the tie in favour of the English side.
Sevilla’s Group B opponents: Arsenal, PSV, Lens
There’s no doubt that Real Madrid are the kings of the Champions League, having won the competition 14 times. That’s by far the most of any club, well ahead of the second team in that ranking, which is AC Milan with seven successes.
Given that Los Blancos won this tournament as recently as 2021/22, most of the members of the current squad know what it’s like to lift this trophy, while Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have the chance this season to match Paco Gento’s record of six European Cup successes. Coach Carlo Ancelotti is a legend of this tournament too, as the Italian has won it four times, more than anybody else.
Real Madrid’s Group C opponents: Napoli, Braga, Union Berlin
After 10 years away, Real Sociedad are back in the Champions League group stage. The Basques will hope to do better than on their last appearance, when they took just one point from a difficult group, but there is a lot of confidence in the city of Donostia-San Sebastian that they can compete against every one of their Group D opponents.
Coach Imanol Alguacil has been in charge at La Real since 2018 and has transformed the fortunes of this team, implementing a very attractive playing style. The squad boasts so much talent in the midfield, with the likes of Mikel Merino, Martin Zubimendi, Brais Mendez and Takefusa Kubo, all of whom will make their Champions League debuts this season and look to show Europe what they can do.
Real Sociedad’s Group D opponents: Benfica, Inter, Salzburg
For Atletico Madrid, the dream of winning the European Cup begins once more, this time in Group E where they’ll meet historic clubs such as Feyenoord, Lazio and Celtic. No club has finished runners-up in this competition without winning it as many times as Atleti, with their three unsuccessful trips to the final, two of which have come under the stewardship of Diego Simeone, in 2014 and 2016.
Although they crashed out in fourth place in the groups last season, that was a rarity for Los Colchoneros as they’ve reached the knockouts in eight of Simeone’s 10 Champions League campaigns and progressed to the quarter-finals six times under the Argentine. Given that Atletico Madrid are one of the most in-form teams in all of European football in 2023, a calendar year in which they’ve won 19 of 32 games, scoring 62 goals, they’ll be a serious contender once again.
Atletico Madrid’s Group E opponents: Feyenoord, Lazio, Celtic
At Barcelona, there is a clear determination to progress through the group stage this year after exiting at this round in each of the past two seasons. That was a shock, as Barca had reached the knockouts for 17 consecutive campaigns before then.
Coming into this year’s Champions League as La Liga champions, and with Ilkay Gundogan, the man who lifted this trophy as Manchester City captain last season, now playing for the Catalan club, there is great expectation that Barca can once again make a deep run in this competition, a tournament they’ve won five times.
FC Barcelona’s Group H opponents: Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Antwerp
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