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Champions League: 8 fixtures we can't wait for this season

City vs PSG
(Image credit: Future)

The road to Saint Petersburg has begun, with the Champions League draw made and the biggest and best sides in Europe drawn against each other.

There are plenty of narratives to be woven, too. New superpowers against one another, old rivalries to be settled and tactical battles to be had, as the continent's finest square off.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE The Champions League draw in full

And there's so much football to get excited by...

1. Manchester City vs Paris Saint-Germain

The big one. A repeat of last year's semi-final sees Pep Guardiola up against Mauricio Pochettino once more, as Lionel Messi's new side face... well, potentially Cristiano Ronaldo's new side.

PSG and Manchester City are the two new kids on the block in European football, both having only got as far as the final. A win early on in this season's edition of the tournament against one another would put down a massive marker. 

The individual battles will be thrilling. Grealish against Hakimi, De Bruyne against Ramos and Neymar against Dias but to think of three. Surely the pair will want to go hammer and tongs after the fiery affair last season?

2. Manchester United vs Villarreal

Villarreal lifting the Europa League trophy

Ask us 12 months ago if we could get excited over Manchester United facing Villarreal and we would probably have replied "Uhh, yeah, why not?" 

But plenty has happened since - not least that the Europa League final between the pair in which United were huge favourites, yet lost in an endless penalty shootout. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has plenty to prove - not least that he can dismantle a deep block like this - and will want to set the record straight.

Don't forget though, Unai Emery is in the same boat. The serial winner at Europa League level has never really impressed at the elite level and will surely want to better Ole Gunnar Solksjaer once more on this stage. 

3. Barcelona vs Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski

(Image credit: PA)

Get your bets in for another 8-2...

The last time these two met, it was shocking and scintillating - but since then, Barcelona have kickstarted a rebuild. A match-up against German champs Bayern Munich shows them just how far they've come since that horrible night in Portugal and whether or not they're capable of venturing deep into the competition. 

Bayern, meanwhile, crave what they see as their trophy back. Another beating of Barca - plus the defensively resilient Benfica - will stand them in good stead and send a message to the rest of the continent. 

4. Atletico vs Liverpool

Mohamed Salah

(Image credit: PA)

We've been here before. Jurgen Klopp was well-beaten by Diego Simeone - whose Atletico became the first side to defeat the German over two legs with Liverpool when they beat them the season before last.

A rematch comes at a point where Atletico are arguably stronger. Liverpool will want to test their mettle against the LaLiga champions as a litmus test of whether they're back to their best or not - and grinding out a win against El Cholo's deep block would be a big result.

With Porto and AC Milan in this group, it's certainly winnable for Liverpool, who'll be favourites - but a couple of complacent slip-ups along the way and they'll be sweating on qualification... 

5. Chelsea vs Juventus

Antonio Rudiger

(Image credit: PA)

Romelu Lukaku returns to Italy soon in his Chelsea career, as European champions Chelsea face the returning Max Allegri.

Juventus are not the force they once were, making Group H Chelsea's for the taking. But as Allegri has proved in Europe in the past, his team can be very difficult to break down. Chelsea are still a work in progress - which seems wild to consider, looking at how they won the Champions League last season - and in a wily, hard-to-break-down side like Juve, Thomas Tuchel may come a cropper. 

Trips to Malmo and Zenit should be walkovers for both the west Londoners and the Old Lady, you'd expect. Those two big clashes will be key for determining the group winner.

6. Real Madrid vs Inter Milan

Carlo Ancelotti

(Image credit: PA)

Two huge names of the European stage, neither of whom are at their most ferocious. 

But Real Madrid vs Inter Milan is always a massive game, regardless of the circumstances. Carlo Ancelotti returns to one of his many former home grounds for this one - while Simone Inzaghi will want to make the Nerazzurri a little tougher in the Champions League than they were under Conte.

And of course, this might be the first glimpse we get of Kylian Mbappe in European competition... 

7. Borussia Dortmund vs Ajax

Erling Haaland

(Image credit: PA)

A hipster's pick, 90s winners Dortmund take on Ajax in a group in which almost anything could happen.

While Marco Rose's side are the obvious favourites against the Dutch champions though, there are interesting subplots in there. Erik ten Hag is a former Bayern assistant, used to trumping BVB; new Dortmund striker Donyell Malen is an ex-PSV striker who'll get an interesting reception in the Johan Cruyff Arena.

It's the lads that gave us total football vs the lot who perfected gegenpressing - and as a diamond midfield meets a fluid 4-3-3, this is one for the tactics nerds to salivate over. 

8. Lille vs Sevilla

Youssef En-Nesyri

(Image credit: PA)

What happens when you put four underdogs in the one group? 

Individually, not a lot is expected of Lille, Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg or Wolfsburg in this competition. The favourites surely have to be Sevilla though, given their pedigree - and this season, there's less chance of them going straight to the Europa for another title, there. 

Against Lille, we'll get to see if they've got the potential to be a dark horse in this tournament. They've got European pedigree after all - finish top of the group and anything could happen... 

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