After a disappointing season for German clubs last year the draw for the group stage of the 2022-23 tournament has been made with the four Bundesliga participants finding out their illustrious opponents for the forthcoming competition. Only Bayern made it out of the group stage last time out and they were shocked in the quarter-final by Villarreal.
So, what is in store for the cream of German football as they begin their next European odyssey?
The 2020 winners of the trophy will be keen to turn their domestic dominance onto the European stage and make up for the disappointment of last season’s shock exit. Former Bayern midfielder Hamit Altintop helped make the draw which has pitted the Bavarians in a hammer draw against Barcelona, Inter and Czech side Viktoria Plzen in group C.
Bayern were drawn with the Spanish giants last season in the group stage and won both ties 3-0. They also have fond memories of the 2019-20 season when they enjoyed an 8-2 aggregate win in the quarter-finals on the way to lifting the trophy. They will however be coming up against their former talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski this time around.
Even though its twelve years ago, the memory of their Champions League Final defeat to Inter in Madrid will still hurt a little and revenge will be on the cards. Overall, the sides have met seven times in the competition and have three wins each. The supposed easier tie sees Julian Nagelsmann’s side face Plzen, who they have faced once before in the Champions League back in 2013-14. Mario Mandzukic gave them a narrow 1-0 away win, before a more comfortable 5-0 win at home
What they’re saying:
Hasan Salihamidžić: “The group is tight, but we’re looking forward to it. Playing against such top opponents in outstanding stadiums is fun. The lads have to go full throttle immediately and find a top attitude in every game. Of course, we want to play for first place, and we will try to win all the games in this attractive group.”
Julian Nagelsmann: “It’s a very demanding group full of challenges. Inter has strengthened again well. This is a club that has had many international successes and has regained strength in recent years. At Barcelona, the story with Lewy is of course already written. I hope that we can achieve similar results as we did against Barça in recent years. Plzen is the Czech champion ahead of the Prague clubs, that’s saying something. We have to be there right from the start. We’re looking forward to that.”
Thomas Müller: “What a great story that we’re about to meet FC Barcelona with Robert Lewandowski. For me, a great group with great teams. These will be great Champions League evenings for football fans. But one thing is also clear: we have to do our homework to reach the round of 16.”
The Schwarzgelben will face some tough challengers and will have to be on top form to finish in the top two. Manchester City, Sevilla and FC Copenhagen are their opponents in group G.
Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City will be one of the top favourites to lift the trophy and Dortmund will know exactly what to expect when the Citizens unleash Erlin Haaland on them. Knowing what to expect from their former star is one thing, being able to stop him is another. City also have Ilkay Gundogan in their ranks as a former BVB favourite.
Sevilla’s European record over the past few seasons speaks for itself and having lifted the UEFA Europa League in 2006, 2007, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2020 they will want to make an impact in the Champions League. Former BVB midfielder Thomas Delaney is currently with the Rojiblancos, although by the end of the transfer window that could change.
FC Copenhagen complete the group. The two clubs have met once before in 2001-02 when Dortmund knocked them out of the then UEFA Cup third round.
What they’re saying:
Hans-Joachim Watzke (CEO): “If you come from pot three, it’s clear even before the draw that you’ll be in a very strong Champions League group. The task is of course challenging, but not impossible. You don’t have to be a prophet to predict that the Sevilla games could certainly play an important role. But you also have to win both games against Copenhagen.”
Edin Terzic: “We’re looking forward to this group, even if we certainly didn’t get the easiest draws from the respective pots and our concentration is first on the Bundesliga anyway. Man City are the absolute favourites, not only in the Premier League but also in the Champions League. We played really well against City and Sevilla not so long ago; they were all very close. And Copenhagen, as Danish champions, is also a real challenge. In this group we will see former BVB players like Erling Haaland, Ilkay Gündogan and Thomas Delaney again. We are also very much looking forward to that.”
Marco Reus: “Of course, Manchester City is a benchmark in the Champions League. We are looking forward to it as much as we are to seeing Erling Haaland again. We won in Seville in 2021 and played a really good game. Copenhagen are Danish champions, and the city is of course a really cool travel location for our fans too.”
At the top table again, Bayer Leverkusen were able to take their minds off their poor start to the Bundesliga season for a short while as their leadership travelled to Istanbul to view the draw, which pitted them in group B against Porto, Atletico Madrid, and Club Brugge.
Gerardo Seoane side face three tough opponents, but on their day, the Werkself are capable of making it out of the group (although that might seem far-fetched at the moment). Diego Simeone’s Atletico will be the group favourites, so much will depend on how Leverkusen fare against both Porto and Brugge.
What they’re saying:
Fernando Carro (CEO): “An exciting group with old friends. We now have to do everything we can to stabilize ourselves quickly in the league so that we can enjoy these big football evenings accordingly and be able to perform successfully in them.”
Simon Rolfes (sporting director) “It’s an interesting and balanced group. Atlético Madrid – that’s always a special atmosphere. I myself played my last Champions League game in the old stadium in Madrid. All teams have a different way of playing football. That’s why I’m looking forward to the games and believe that something is possible here. We have to make sure that we get on track in the league. The Champions League is a competition that also releases energy. We hope that we can find our rhythm over the English weeks and find our way back to our form through these games.”
Die Roten Bullen from pot 2 will face last season’s Champions League winners Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Celtic. The Spanish giants will obviously be the favourites to win the group, but Leipzig would be very disappointed if they were to finish behind either Shakhtar or Scottish side Celtic.
The Ukrainians will play their home matches in Warsaw and with the war still going on, it will be very difficult to imagine them progressing into the knock-out stage. Celtic have European pedigree having won the trophy back in 1967, but Leipzig will see that as the past and want to focus on the present.
Being drawn in the same group as Manchester City and Paris St Germain was always going to be a tough ask for RB last season, but and they then fell at the semi-final stage of the UEFA Cup leaving Eintracht Frankfurt to lift the trophy.
What they’re saying:
Oliver Mintzlaff (CEO): “We are extremely proud to be taking part in the Champions League for the fifth time in our seventh year as a Bundesliga club. The group with defending champions and record champions Real Madrid and the reigning national champions Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic Glasgow is an exciting challenge that we are very happy to accept. We are looking forward to magical nights together with our fans! Our goal is to spend the winter in Europe — preferably for the third time in the premier class, of course.”
The Adler take their place in this season’s competition courtesy of their UEFA Cup triumph in Seville (the first team to benefit from the new rule). Placed in pot 1 along with the top seeds they have drawn in Group D alongside Premier League side Tottenham, Portuguese outfit Sporting Lisbon and Marseille.
Back in the elite competition for the first time since 1960 when they lost in the final to Real Madrid, Oliver Glasner’s 2022 edition will face three very tough challengers.
Tottenham under Antonio Conte are emerging as team tipped to challenge for the Premier League title and with the goalscoring threat of Harry Kane and former Leverkusen striker Son Heung Min, they have the fire power to do some real damage. A fierce atmosphere will await in the Velodrome in Marseille- as side with fans equally as passionate as those in Frankfurt. Sporting Lisbon cannot be excluded as the also-rans with talent such as wingers Francisco Trincao, Pedro Goncalves, and right back Pedro Porro in their ranks
What they’re saying:
Markus Krösche (sporting director): “We have been drawn into a highly attractive group. We are very much looking forward to this challenge. As a top club in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur have an extraordinary individual quality – if you think of Harry Kane and Heung-min Son, among others. Sporting Lisbon shone with a great collective last season. Similar to Olympique Marseille, who played outstandingly last year as runners-up in Ligue 1. Despite the strength of our opponents, our goal is to qualify for the round of 16.”
Axel Hellmann (board spokesman): “As in previous years, we have been drawn with attractive opponents and in attractive cities. The draw is also positive for our fans because we always play in big stadiums and can therefore take a comparatively large number with us. It feels a bit like the 2018/19 season when we also played in London, Lisbon and Marseille. We look forward to highly attractive opponents in a group where anything can happen.”