Champions League guide: Group A in focus
Fixtures and UK kick-off times
Ajax vs Rangers (September 7, 5.45pm)
Napoli vs Liverpool (September 7, 8pm)
Liverpool vs Ajax (September 13, 8pm)
Rangers vs Napoli (September 13, 8pm)
Liverpool vs Rangers (October 4, 8pm)
Ajax vs Napoli (October 4, 8pm)
Napoli vs Ajax (October 12, 5.45pm)
Rangers vs Liverpool (October 12, 8pm)
Napoli vs Rangers (October 26, 8pm)
Ajax vs Liverpool (October 26, 8pm)
Liverpool vs Napoli (November 1, 8pm)
Rangers vs Ajax (November 1, 8pm)
The loss of head coach Erik ten Hag to Manchester United and several key players has left Ajax in something of a rebuilding phase heading into the new season.
Domestically, at least, the Dutch champions have been unfazed, winning their first four Eredivisie games and scoring 12 goals in the process.
New boss Alfred Schreuder will know the Champions League is an entirely different prospect but qualification from Group A is hardly an impossibility.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool will again be among the favourites to win the Champions League, although their start to the season has not been overly convincing despite a record-equalling 9-0 demolition of Bournemouth.
When key players such as Thiago, Joel Matip and Darwin Nunez return, the Reds should be stronger and this is largely the same squad of players that reached the final last season.
A first ever meeting in the competition with Rangers will be an intriguing one for fans but Liverpool should comfortably qualify for the knockout stages.
Napoli are a potential bogey team, though, with just one win for the Premier League side in four Champions League matches against the Partenopei.
The Italian side have started their domestic season well, seemingly scoring at will in Serie A.
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli are in a transitional phase after several departures in the summer. Lorenzo Insigne left for Toronto, while Kalidou Koulibaly joined Chelsea and Dries Mertens made the switch to Galatasaray.
In came young Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has made a flying start, and midfielder Andre Zambo Anguissa from Fulham, among others.
In the absence of Insigne and Mertens, striker Victor Osimhen will be the key man and focal point in attack for Napoli.
After a mammoth effort just to qualify for the group stages, Rangers will have thoroughly enjoyed watching the draw.
A clash with British rivals Liverpool is a mouthwatering one and Gers fans certainly will not turn their noses up at trips to Amsterdam and Naples.
They will be the underdogs in this group but Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side showed throughout last season’s run to the Europa League final that they are not to be underestimated.
If Liverpool can come through some potentially tricky away trips in Group A, they should ease into the last 16.
Napoli at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona could be the toughest of them. Klopp’s side lost 2-0 there the last time the two teams met in the group stages in 2019 and that will still be relatively fresh in the memory.
Additionally, the clashes between Ajax and Napoli could well decide who finishes second, with Liverpool likely to sit top after six matches.
It should be an interesting tactical affair with plenty of attacking football on show.
One to watch: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia
Kvaratskhelia — signed from Georgian side Dinamo Batumi — has been a revelation so far, scoring three goals already in Serie A.
An effective dribbler and a clinical finisher, the left-sided attacker, 21, looks like the ideal replacement for Insigne, whose departure seemed damaging for Napoli.
But some shrewd scouting appears to have set them in good stead for the new season, given Kvaratskhelia's fast start to life in Italy.
Hot prospect: Fabio Carvalho
Fabio Carvalho, who joined from Fulham in the summer, has only been given a couple of cameo appearances in the Premier League but already looks like a potential future star for Liverpool.
The teenager was a bright spark in his team's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford and scored off the bench in the 9-0 rout of Bournemouth.
If he continues to impress as a substitute, the youngster could be given a chance to shine in the Champions League group stages.
The obvious favourites to progress are Liverpool, who should have few issues — in theory — though getting players back from injury will be key for Klopp’s men.
The Reds made the final last season but fell to a 1-0 defeat against Real Madrid.
Bolstered by the addition of Nunez, they will be hoping to go one better this time around despite the departure of Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.
It should be an interesting battle for second place but Ajax probably have a slight edge over Napoli and Rangers heading into the competition.
Schreuder's fast start to life in Amsterdam stands the reigning Eredivisie champions in good stead as they look to make their mark in Europe.
Napoli are also top of the fledgling Serie A table after three games — albeit on goal difference — while Rangers are unbeaten after five matches but trail Celtic by two points.
All facts correct as of 12pm on August 30.