The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco played host to the riveting UEFA Champions League draw, unveiling a captivating lineup of groups that promise intense clashes and nail-biting competition.
Amidst this draw, Group F emerges as a standout, dubbed this year’s “Group of Death.” It features a formidable quartet, including Ligue 1 champions PSG, Bundesliga’s Dortmund, last season’s UCL semifinalist AC Milan, and the resurgent Saudi-backed Newcastle United.
Strategic categorization placed PSG in Pot 1, Dortmund in Pot 2, AC Milan in Pot 3, and the recently less active Newcastle United in Pot 4. A twist of fortune now pits these formidable teams against each other, battling for the coveted top two spots that secure progression to the knockout stages.
The fans on social media were buzzing seeing this group as they couldn’t wait for the matchups; however, the majority of the fans weren’t hopeful for PSG’s chances without Lionel Messi and Neymar, as comments like “I See PSG Bottling This Group” & “Mpaypal to play in Europa League, ” gained the spotlight.
Borussia Dortmund 🇩🇪
Newcastle 🏴@_poppymiller, @CharlieDavies9 and @MikeLahoud share who they think will come out on top in Group F, the #UCL Group of Death. 💀 pic.twitter.com/z2xlCHn9fT
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 31, 2023
Under the guidance of Luis Enrique and propelled by the prowess of Kylian Mbappe, PSG poses a substantial challenge to its contenders. Edin Terzić’s Dortmund, though dealt the blow of losing Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid, remains resolute in its ambitions.
AC Milan, with Rafael Leão as its focal point, seeks to replicate last season’s impressive semifinal run. Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United, while acknowledging their relative inexperience, remains determined to surmount challenges, with Sandro Tonali’s return to Milan adding an intriguing subplot.
This season marks the 20th and final iteration of the well-known format, with eight round-robin groups featuring four teams each. The top two from each group advance to a 16-team knockout phase, intensifying the race for glory.
A transformation awaits the Champions League in the upcoming year, as 36 teams partake in a revamped format. Teams engage in eight matches, transcending the traditional six, while maintaining a unified ranking. The top eight ascend directly to the round of 16, while teams ranked 9 to 24 engage in a spirited knockout playoff for the remaining eight spots.
The forthcoming edition of the Champions League commences on September 19, with the group-stage battles culminating on December 13. A new chapter unfolds in February, with the knockout stage journey culminating in the grand finale at London’s iconic Wembley Stadium on June 1.
Newcastle United return to the UEFA Champions League after 20 years
Among the notable contenders in Group F, Newcastle United emerges as a captivating storyline, marking their reentry into the prestigious Champions League after a 20-year hiatus.
After securing a commendable fourth-place finish in the previous Premier League season, Newcastle United’s ownership by the Saudi Investment Fund, holding an 80% stake, has proven to be an investment that yields not only financial rewards but also a coveted entry into the UCL.
Their classification in Pot 4 places them in the company of perennial contenders like PSG and Dortmund, igniting excitement for their long-anticipated return.
With their spotlight now rekindled in the tournament, Newcastle United aspires to leave an indelible mark on this year’s competition, leveraging their renewed vigor and ambition.
Newcastle United clinched a berth for the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League, the club’s 3rd appearance in the UCL Group Stage and 1st since 2002-03.
At the beginning of the season, Newcastle was +800 to finish top 4.
Newcastle has been relegated twice since its last UCL app. pic.twitter.com/ORprCHrwRx
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2023
Reflecting on their recent history, the last occasion Newcastle United graced the Champions League was during the 2003-04 season. Regrettably, their journey was short-lived as they were eliminated in the third qualifying round by Partizan Belgrade.
The last time Newcastle participated in the group stage was in the 2002-03 season, where they advanced by securing second place in their group. This achievement granted them entry into the second group stage, pitting them against formidable opponents such as Barcelona, Inter, and Bayer Leverkusen. Despite commendable efforts, they couldn’t advance beyond this stage, experiencing victories over Leverkusen and a notable draw against Inter at San Siro.
Although their involvement in European competitions temporarily waned, notably participating in the 2012-13 Europa League, Newcastle United’s resurgence in the Champions League rekindles the passion of their dedicated fan base and the soccer world at large.