Its September and the volatility of the transfer window has been shut down albeit for majority of the countries. Clubs huffed and puffed for weeks and months to accumulate a squad they hope will be capable enough to achieve their goals. Some feel confident with their businesses like Spurs, Chelsea and even Man United with their late surge in the market, whereas others will feel like they were a body or two short such as Arsenal who lost both Party and Elneny to injuries and are now without reinforcements.

Similarly, there are clubs who went for quantity such as Nottingham Forrest who signed 21 players this summer after getting promoted to the Premier League for the first time this millennium.

Now the focus turns towards clubs’ goals and dreams. Many European teams’ dream is to win the lucrative Champions League or for some like Arsenal, just to qualify after years of disappointment will be considered an overwhelming success. The world’s most prestigious club competition is set to begin this week as the groups are all decided. Due to the World Cup later this year, 6 group games are set to be played in less than 2 months or 9 weeks to be precise. So it looks likely to be a lot of action crammed into a few weeks. Here are a few things you need to know about this years tournament by the numbers.

0. Debutants: There are no debutants in this years competition. Unlike the past years, all the teams have had experiences in the past. Israel’s Maccabi Haifa are one of the minnows who debuted in this competition back in 2002. They even defeated Manchester United and finished 3rd, booking a place in the UEFA cup, currently known as the Europa League.

Also, 0 could be the number for the teams that have never won this trophy including the likes of Man City and PSG whose seasons will be defined on how they fare in this competition. Man City are paired with Sevilla, Copenhagen and Haaland’s former team Dortmund. One of the toughest teams on paper although City are expected to progress. 

Meanwhile PSG face off against Juventus, Benfica and afore mentioned Maccabi Haifa.

  1. For the very first time, both rangers and Celtic have made to the champions league group in same year. 
  2. Amount of Champions League Chelsea have won. They face off against the second most winningest team in UCL, AC Milan who won the Series A last year for the first time after a decade. These two teams are heavy favorites to progress out of group E as RB Salzburg and Dinamo Zagreb have progressed into the knockout round once and that was Salzburg last season when they got hammered by Bayern 8-2 over the two legs.
  3. Inter Milan are the only 1 of two clubs to have won the Champions league 3 times and are the sole representatives this year as Manchester United are in the Europa League. They won this tournament as recent as 2010 when Jose Mourinho won the treble for the Nerazzuri. They were bundled out of the group stage in two of the last 3 years. The Series A runners up could be in line for a 3rd exit out of 4 as they contend with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the group stages.
  4. 4 is the amount of goals Barcelona have scored against Bayern Munich over the last 4 encounters combined. Whereas Bayern have netted a whopping 17 in that span. Including that 8-2 drubbing in the quarter finals of the 2019/20 quarter final clash.
  5. Barcelona have won the competition 5 times but have not won since 2015. They reached a new low last year when they finished 3rd in the group stages where Bayern beat them 3-0 twice. They have made the semi finals, just once since they won the competition back in 2015. Although their record UCL goalscorer, Lionel Messi who has scored 120 goals for Barcelona has left for Paris, they will have Bayern’s all time UCL goalscorer, Robert Lewandowski at the helm, who has scored 69 for the Bavarians. He smashed 13 last year.
  6. Number of times Bayern have won the Champions League. They won 3 seasons ago during the cold affected season where Lewandowski bagged 15 goals and 6 assists, one of the most prolific numbers by any player in the competitions history. Bayern have replaced their star striker with Senegal star Said Mane who scored 5 goals in the UCL last season and has scored critical goals in the past, including that beautiful strike against his current club while playing for Liverpool on their way to the trophy that year.
  7. Is the aim for Bayern Munich as well as Liverpool who were close last season as they were narrowly defeated by champions Real Madrid. The Reds led by Jurgen Clop have been prolific in the competition of late as they have made the finals in 3 of their last 5 appearances. Although they got over the hump just once, they will be confident of making another deep run led by their all time goalscorer in the UCL, Mohammed Salad, who has scored 34 for the Reds.
  8. Tottenham hotspur have reached at least the round of 8 three times out of 6. They reached this stage back in 2011 by their breakthrough star Gareth Bale. They have played UCL 4 times since then and have made the finals once, losing to English opposition Liverpool in 2019. Antonio Conte’s Champions League re old isn’t something to boast about, though, as his overall record is: Games: 36; Wins: 12; Draws: 13; Defeats: 11. They are drawn in the group with Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting Lisbon and Marseille.
  9. Marseille, one of the biggest teams in France have not had the best of times in the Champions League recently as this is just their 9th appearance this millennium. They have progressed out of the group stages just twice in that timeframe. They 1992/93 winners look to change their recent failures as Igor Turdor’s side look to get out of what looks to be an open group. Sporting Lisbon, who were linked with their former prodigal son Cristiano Ronaldo over the summer have lost two of their most talented stars in Matheus Nunes and Joao Palhinha to English clubs Wolves and newcomers Fulham respectively. They are known to produce talents so we should not be surprised if they come up with a young side ready to upset the odds.
  10. La Decimal. Real Madrid went 11 years without a UCL after they won their 9th in 2002 thanks to goals from Raul and Zidane at Hampden Park. For the latter part of those 11 years, the term La Decimal was trending and pressure was mounting on the European giants. In came the Italian Carlo Ancelotti, and delivered their magical 10th crown. Interestingly enough, the got the sack a year after winning the illusive La Decimal. Ironically enough he came back to Real last year and has since delivered their 14th. Staggering. Rich history comes to mind when you think of Real and their European pedigree.
    Nobody had won the UCL back to back years until they did in 2017. They went one better as they won it 3 times in a row in 2018 under their legendary player and manager Zinedine Zidane.

Bonus: Betting odds

Defending champions Real are 5th favorites to win the UCL this year, according to Vegas Odds(+900). They are behind Manchester City who are placed at +250 to win their first Champions League. Gunning for they first are PSG who are second favorites at +500. Liverpool and Bayern are +550 and +650 respectively. Interestingly enough, Tottenham Hotspur(+1400) have better chances than Chelsea(+1600) according to the oddsmakers. Minnows Maccabi Haifa are +150000 meaning you will receive $0.15 if for $100 you spend.

As for the top scorers, Erling Harland(+300) is ahead of the likes of Karim Benzema(+700) for the race to the golden boot.

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