Champions League guide: Group A in focus
Paris Saint-Germain are one of two clear favourites to progress from this group — knockout football is an absolute must for Mauricio Pochettino’s big spenders.
With significant investment in the team over the past few months, arguably anything but winning the trophy will be considered a failure for the highly ambitious club.
But similar things could be said of Manchester City, who are yet to taste the Champions League glory that Pep Guardiola was expected to deliver.
One club capable of upsetting these big names is RB Leipzig.
They have undergone a summer of flux, with a new manager as Jesse Marsch replaces Julian Nagelsmann and changes to the playing squad. As a selling club, they are used to rebuilding and do so better than most.
Club Brugge face a tough challenge to get anything from this group, and even a third-place finish to qualify for the Europa League will be a big ask.
But if they can steal a point here or there, the Belgians could have a big say in how things pan out.
Champions League Group A fixtures
Check back throughout the group stage for the latest results and match reports
Wednesday September 15
Tuesday September 28
RB Leipzig 1-2 Club Brugge
Tuesday October 19
Wednesday November 3
Wednesday November 24
Club Brugge 0-5 RB Leipzig
Tuesday December 7
Key fixture: Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester City
It is a fixture many might expect to see in the final but we get to witness it twice in the group stage.
It is Qatar vs the United Arab Emirates and Lionel Messi vs Pep Guardiola in a star-studded showdown which the whole world will be watching.
The storylines are many and the intrigue is plentiful. For all the talk of a European Super League, these two clubs are already in a super league of their own when it comes to the way they spend and the resources they have.
A meeting between the pair is not a battle between an English club and a French club but one between two global football powerhouses and two all-star teams.
One to watch: Lionel Messi
Choosing one of the greatest players of all time as one to watch seems too obvious but PSG have never won the Champions League and they will be looking to Messi to change that.
So all eyes will be on the 34-year-old Argentine star, to see if he — along with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar — can fire PSG to a historic European title.
With a sensational supporting cast, everything is in place for Messi to sparkle in the French capital and lead Les Parisiens to glory.
Breakout star: Noa Lang
Dutch winger Lang was Club Brugge’s top scorer last season, scoring 17 goals in all competitions and contributing an impressive 11 assists.
Given the 22-year-old will be displaying his talents on Europe’s biggest stage this year, it is unlikely he will remain in Belgium beyond the current season.
Lang is dynamic and direct coming in off the left wing, possessing the vision of a No10 along with the skills and quickness of a winger or inside forward.
He and attacking midfielder Charles De Ketelaere, 20, could make a real impact in the Champions League in 2021-22, even if Club Brugge do not.
The games between Manchester City and PSG are likely to decide first and second place but Leipzig could have a say in those final standings if they click immediately under Marsch.
The Bundesliga side will likely finish third, dropping into a Europa League tournament that they would have every chance of winning.
Brugge will be entertaining to watch given the array of talent they have — but while there is always the chance of an upset, the Belgians look nailed on for fourth place.
All information correct as of 10am, September 6, 2021