Champions League group stage predictions: English sides should all progress
The Champions League group stage draw has thrown up what should be some intriguing early ties and — with six British teams in the mix — it promises to be another exciting campaign in Europe's premier club competition.
The reigning champions are Real Madrid, who beat Liverpool in last term's final in Paris in May, while all the big guns are involved again — including Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich, Juventus and AC Milan.
As well as Jurgen Klopp's beaten 2022 finalists, Premier League champions Manchester City, two-time Champions League winners Chelsea and their London rivals Tottenham are the English clubs eyeing success in the competition — while Rangers, who are in Liverpool's group, are back in at this stage for the first time in 12 years.
Old Firm rivals Celtic also make a welcome return to the group stage for the first time since 2017-18 and the Hoops will take on Real in Group F.
Finally City's time for glory
Manchester City's expensively-assembled squad will be dreaming of European glory and the Premier League champions remain desperate to transfer their recent domestic dominance onto the continental scene.
Having only reached the final once — when they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in 2021 — and despite their trophy-winning exploits in other competitions over the past decade, City have never conquered Europe.
But having been drawn alongside Sevilla, Borussia Dortmund and FC Copenhagen in Group G, they will be expected to reach the knockout stage again without too many problems.
Eyes will already be on summer signing Erling Haaland taking on his former club when BVB face City in two mouth-watering ties.
Joining them in the last 16 from that group are likely to be one of Sevilla or Dortmund, while Danish champions Copenhagen's attempts to compete for a place in the top two in the pool is likely to end in failure.
Rangers in tricky group for Reds
Liverpool have been handed a tricky draw as the Reds will face Dutch champions Ajax, Italian side Napoli and Rangers in Group A.
The all-British showdowns between the 'Gers and the six-time European winners are likely to grab plenty of headlines but Klopp's side, who have played in three of the last five Champions League finals, should have the knowhow to safely navigate the group.
Rangers, who qualified thanks to a 3-2 aggregate win over PSV Eindhoven in the play-off round on Wednesday, will want to demonstrate they belong at this level — but are likely to find it tough going trying to finish in the top two ahead of the seasoned Champions League campaigners from Naples and Amsterdam respectively.
Tottenham get favourable draw
Tottenham will take on Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP and Marseille in Group D.
Spurs will be pleased with that draw and should be confident of progressing, probably as group winners, with any of the remaining three teams capable of joining them.
Chelsea should progress with Milan
Chelsea will face AC Milan, FC Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb, where anything other than progress from Thomas Tuchel's side and the Italian champions would be a surprise.
Celtic, meanwhile, will play Los Blancos, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage and look to have their work cut out to make the knockout rounds.
It will likely be Carlo Ancelotti's side and dangerous German outfit Leipzig who will dominate proceedings.
Barca, Bayern and Inter together
Group C looks very tasty with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Inter joined by Czech side Viktoria Plzen, while PSG, Juve and Benfica will face relative minnows Maccabi Haifa in Group H.
Finally, in Group B, Atletico Madrid, Porto and Bayer Leverkusen will all have designs on finishing in the qualification places, ahead of Belgian side Club Brugge.