Champions League guide: Group E in focus
Bayern Munich won the Champions League two seasons ago and will be expecting to go all the way once again.
They have strengthened their team this summer by plundering French defender Dayot Upamecano and Austrian midfielder Marcel Sabitzer from domestic rivals RB Leipzig.
Bayern’s main challengers in Group E are Barcelona but recent events at the Catalan club — including the loss of talisman Lionel Messi — make their last Champions League triumph in 2014-15 feel like it was in the distant past.
Like Barca, Benfica will be feeling down on their luck after they finished outside the Primeira Liga’s top two places for the first time in over a decade.
Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv finish off the group with a squad of mostly domestic players — including stars like Mykola Shaparenko, who helped their country reach the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
Champions League Group E fixtures
Check back throughout the group stage for the latest results and match reports
Tuesday September 14
Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 Benfica
Wednesday September 29
Wednesday October 20
Tuesday November 2
Tuesday November 23
Wednesday December 8
Benfica 2-0 Dynamo Kyiv
Key fixture: Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
A shocking 8-2 capitulation at the hands of Bayern will live with Barcelona for a long time.
That heavy loss to the German outfit in the 2019-20 Champions League quarter-finals has been a symbol of Blaugrana’s fall from the summit of European football.
Die Roten rubbed salt in Barca’s wounds that night, when Philippe Coutinho — on loan from the Catalans at the time — scored the German side’s seventh and eighth goals.
Barcelona will be hoping they can get some revenge for that scoreline when they face Bayern at the Camp Nou in what should be a thrilling start to the group.
One to watch: Alphonso Davies
Canadian international Alphonso Davies burst onto the scene two seasons ago at Bayern, making the UEFA Team of the Year in 2020 after helping his side win the Champions League.
The attacking left-back was born in Ghana and lived in Liberia before moving to Canada as a refugee when he was five.
He made his debut for Canada when he was just 16 — becoming the country’s youngest-ever player.
Davies joined Bayern from Vancouver Whitecaps in 2018 for a then-record MLS transfer fee of £16million including add-ons.
The 20-year-old has been worth every penny to FCB after racking up a total of 88 appearances in all competitions for the Bavarian outfit.
Breakout star: Pedri
Barcelona midfielder Pedri is the next big thing in Spanish football.
The club’s famed La Masia academy might not be creating as many elite youth players as before but when Barca can sign stars of Pedri’s talent, perhaps it does not have to.
The 18-year-old started his career at Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.
He played a full season in the Segunda Division at the age of just 16 before being signed by the Blaugrana.
Pedri featured in almost every game for Barcelona last season and has already represented his country ten times at senior level.
The Spanish youngster certainly had a summer to remember — being named in the Euro 2020 Team of the Tournament, before heading to Tokyo and winning an Olympic silver medal with the Under-23s.
This is Bayern Munich’s group to lose.
They will be expected to finish top of the table, especially given Barcelona’s tumultuous summer.
But despite Barca’s struggles, they still have enough quality to finish second above Benfica.
The Portuguese side’s squad is not as strong as it was a few seasons ago and they will most likely be battling it out with Dynamo Kyiv for third place and a spot in the Europa League knockout rounds.
All information correct as of 10am, September 6, 2021