Champions League guide: A run-down of all 32 teams who have made the group stage

It doesn’t feel that long since Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy in Porto after Kai Havertz’s goal sank Manchester City in the final.

But it’s less than three weeks away until the world’s best club competition gets underway as 32 teams battle it out for a place in the knockout stages. After the conclusion of the play-off rounds we now know the 32 teams who will contest the group stage of this year’s tournament.  

There are first-timers and serial winners among the teams, and Sportsmail is here to delve deeper into each of the 32 ahead of Thursday’s draw. 

Chelsea will be looking to retain the Champions League which they won back in May

AC Milan

One of the biggest names in European football are back in the Champions League after seven seasons away.

Only Real Madrid have won the competition more so it’s good to have them back though depending on the draw they could find it tough to get past the group stage being in Pot 4.

With the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Olivier Giroud, Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali they do have a dangerous team that could potentially cause an upset.

ONE TO WATCH: He’s injured until September but how can you not mention Zlatan Ibrahimovic? The Swedish striker is back in the Champions League after a lengthy absence and though he’s not at the level he used to be at, the 17 goals he got for AC Milan last season show he can still do a job at this level. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN:  AC Milan were knocked out by Manchester United in the Round of 16 in the Europa League last season.

They haven’t been in the Champions League since the 2013-14 season where they were beaten 5-1 over two legs by Atletico Madrid. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play a big part as both he and AC Milan return to the Champions League

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will play a big part as both he and AC Milan return to the Champions League

Ajax

The Dutch side eased to the league title last season but have struggled to impress in Europe since their incredible efforts to reach the semi-final in the 2018-19 season.

They’ve had a quiet summer with their biggest signing coming in Steven Berghuis from Dutch rivals Feeyonord.

Ajax though have been able to keep their star players this summer so far and will hope to mount a surprise in Europe this season.  

ONE TO WATCH – Ryan Gravenberch – The latest of a wide array of talents to come through the Ajax youth academy and the wonderkid has already attracted the interest of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Finished third in their Champions League group last season behind Liverpool and Atalanta. Were demoted to the Europa League where they were knocked out in the quarter finals after a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Roma.

Ryan Gravenberch will hope to help Ajax mount a surprise like they did in the 2018-19 season

Ryan Gravenberch will hope to help Ajax mount a surprise like they did in the 2018-19 season

Atalanta 

Atalanta have exceeded expectations and put Serie A giants in their place over the last couple of years despite having one of the smallest budgets in the league. 

Gian Piero Gasperini’s tactics have been at the forefront of their success over the years which has seen them reach as far as the quarter finals in the Champions League. 

They have brought in young talented players including Merih Demiral to help their progress this season and their 98 goals in Serie A last season suggest they will again be a very enjoyable team to watch in the Champions League this campaign.

ONE TO WATCH: Robin Gosens – The German international is a dangerous player down the left side for Atalanta and has a wicked delivery which will cause teams problems. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: The Italian side reached the Round of 16 last season where they were knocked out by Real Madrid 4-1 on aggregate. 

Atalanta scored 98 goals in the Serie A last season and will again be exciting to watch

Atalanta scored 98 goals in the Serie A last season and will again be exciting to watch

Atletico Madrid

Diego Simeone’s side come off a successful season in which they won the LaLiga title for the first time since the 2013-14 season.

In Europe they will be looking to improve on their performance from last year and the potential return of fans at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium will make Atletico a tricky away game for any team.

The club have had a relatively quiet summer but the signing of Rodrigo de Paul from Udinese bolsters their midfield.

ONE TO WATCH: Luis Suarez – The 34-year-old made a big impact in his first season for Atletico by firing them to the title with 21 league goals. Failed to score in Europe however and that will likely need to change if the club hope to get further this year.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Atletico Madrid were outclassed by Chelsea in the Round of 16 losing both games with an aggregate score of 0-3. 

Atletico Madrid will want more from Luis Suarez who didn't score in Europe last season

Atletico Madrid will want more from Luis Suarez who didn’t score in Europe last season

Barcelona

The Champions League has not been a happy hunting crowd to Barcelona over the past few seasons after humiliating eliminations to Roma, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. 

It doesn’t look too promising for the Catalan club this year either after the departure of their legendary star Lionel Messi and with off-field financial problems holding the club back.

On the plus side they have two of the world’s most promising youngsters in Ansu Fati and Pedri, while Memphis Depay could be set for a good season at the club after his arrival from Lyon.

ONE TO WATCH: Ansu Fati – It’s close between him and Pedri but the return of Fati following his torn meniscus last season is a huge boost to Barcelona after the loss of Messi. He made an explosive start to last season and Ronald Koeman will hope he can get back up to speed quickly.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Kylian Mbappe scored a hat-trick as Barcelona suffered a 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint Germain at the Nou Camp before the French side dumped them out of the Round of 16 with a 5-2 aggregate victory.  

Youngsters like Ansu Fati and Pedri will need to take up a bigger role with Lionel Messi gone

Youngsters like Ansu Fati and Pedri will need to take up a bigger role with Lionel Messi gone

Bayern Munich 

Former RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann is now in charge of the giants of the Bundesliga who will go into the tournament as one of the favourites.

The club has lost some experienced players over the summer including David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez though the £38m signing of Dayot Upamecano is a positive one.

There will be a lot of pressure on Nagelsmann to deliver straight away especially after what Hansi Flick was able to accomplish in his first season when he won the Champions League in 2019-20.

ONE TO WATCH: Robert Lewandowski – Continued to break records as he scored 48 goals in 40 games last season though he was severely missed as an injury kept him out when Bayern Munich were eliminated from the Champions League. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: After dominating the competition to win the Champions League in 2020, they were eliminated on away goals in a classic quarter-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

Keeping Robert Lewandowski fit will be vital to Bayern Munich's Champions League hopes

Keeping Robert Lewandowski fit will be vital to Bayern Munich’s Champions League hopes

Benfica

Made it out of the qualifying round of the Champions League after a tense second leg against PSV Eindhoven which they had to play around 60 minutes with ten men after Lucas Verrissimo’s red card.

Struggled in Europe last season but have some impressive players including Rafa Silva and Brazilian international Everton.

Have bolstered their attacking options with the signing of striker Roman Yaremchuk who scored 23 goals for Belgian side Gent last season.

ONE TO WATCH: Everton – Exciting speedy winger who scored seven goals and produced nine assists for Benfica in the league last season  

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Crashed out of the third qualifying round in the Champions League last season to Greek side PAOK before they were eliminated by Arsenal in Round of 32 with a 4-3 aggregate defeat. 

Everton is a lively winger who has the talent to cause teams problems in Europe this season

Everton is a lively winger who has the talent to cause teams problems in Europe this season

Besiktas

Sergen Yalcin’s side only just won the Turkish Super Lig by margin of head to head points with rivals Galatasary to claim their first title since 2017.

The last time they made the group stage they shockingly finished ahead of Porto, RB Leipzig and Monaco to make the Round of 16 where they crashed out with an 8-1 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich.

They have struggled in Europe since then and will be hoping signings Chelsea’s on-loan striker Michy Batshuayi can make a difference.

ONE TO WATCH: Alex Teixeira – The Brazilian foward was linked with Liverpool before he moved to the Chinese Super League in 2016. After five years, he’s back in Europe and it will be interesting to see how he fares at the Turkish side.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Crashed out of the second qualifying round of the Champions League to Greek side PAOK last season before then being eliminated at the third qualifying round of the Europa League to Portuguese side Rio Ave. 

Michy Batshuayi will hope to get his chance of regular first-team football at Besiktas

Michy Batshuayi will hope to get his chance of regular first-team football at Besiktas

Borussia Dortmund

They may no longer have Jadon Sancho but in Erling Haaland they have a striker who will be able to frighten any defence across Europe.

Dortmund have made four signings this season including highly talented Dutch attacker Donyell Marlen from PSV Eindhoven.

Haaland was the competition’s top scorer last season with 10 goals and with the yellow wall at the Signal Iduna Park there could be some great European nights this coming season.

ONE TO WATCH: Erling Haaland – It will be interesting to see how Jude Bellingham gets on in his second season at the club but Haaland is a main event attraction and he will be out to impress ahead of a potentially big move next summer.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League last year where they lost after two exciting games to Manchester City who took a 4-2 aggregate victory.

Erling Haaland was the top goalscorer in the Champions League in the 2020-21 season

Erling Haaland was the top goalscorer in the Champions League in the 2020-21 season

Chelsea

Not many would have predicted the Blues to win the Champions League at the start of last year’s campaign but they certainly go into the new season as one of the heavy favourites.

The club have made huge strides since the appointment of Thomas Tuchel and are now in a position where they can challenge both domestically and in Europe.

Their success last year came without a prolific goalscorer and now with the addition of Romelu Lukaku, they have a figurehead up front to fear which will be surrounded by a talented squad of Champions League winners. They will likely go very far in this tournament.

ONE TO WATCH: Romelu Lukaku – Adding one of the world’s best strikers to an already talented team makes Chelsea that much more of a threat this season and the Belgian international will give defences across Europe a tough time this season.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN –  Beat Atletico Madrid, Porto and Real Madrid to make the final where they beat Premier League champions Manchester City 1-0 to lift their second Champions League trophy. 

Romelu Lukaku will give Chelsea an extra dynamic as look to retain the Champions League

Romelu Lukaku will give Chelsea an extra dynamic as look to retain the Champions League

Club Brugge 

The Belgian champions have made the Champions League group stage for the fourth season running but will hope to pull off a surprise and avoid the drop to the Europa League like they have in previous years.

Brugge have been very active in the transfer market with no fewer than seven signings this summer.

It is hoped the loss of Odilon Kossounou to Bayer Leverkusen won’t harm their hopes too much this season.

ONE TO WATCH: Noa Lang – One of the club’s star players at 22-years-old who has already assisted four goals in five league games this season from the left-flank.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: The Belgian side finished third behind Borussia Dortmund and Lazio in the Champions League last season and were knocked out by Dynamo Kyiv in the Round of 32 in the Europa League. 

Noa Lang has been in great form for Club Brugge this season providing four assists

Noa Lang has been in great form for Club Brugge this season providing four assists

Dynamo Kyiv

Ukrainian champions for the first time in five years, Dynamo Kyiv have made the Champions League group stage for the second season in a row.

The club has a number of talented young Ukrainian players coming through the ranks including Viktor Tsygankov, Vitaliy Mykolenko and defender Ilya Zabarnyi who has been touted by some as Ukraine’s biggest prospect since Andriy Shevchenko.

Haven’t strengthened much over the summer and will be hoping for a favourable draw to boost their chances of making the knockout stage for the first time since 2016.

ONE TO WATCH: Ilya Zabarnyi – Talented 18-year-old centre back who has already had 13 caps for his country and he has been reportedly on the radar of Chelsea.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Finished third in their Champions League group last season behind Juventus and Barcelona before they were knocked out in the Round of 16 in the Europa League by Villarreal. 

Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv have some talented youngsters coming through the squad

Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kyiv have some talented youngsters coming through the squad

Inter Milan

Things have fallen apart for Inter Milan since they won the Serie A title last season.

Manager Antonio Conte left the club by mutual consent while several key players including Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi have opted to forge their own paths elsewhere.

Simeone Inzaghi has moved over from Lazio to take the helm and the club have made six signings including Edin Dzeko, Denzel Dumfries and Hakan Calhanoglu but it could be a tough season with a weaker squad.

ONE TO WATCH:  Lautaro Martinez – With Lukaku gone more responsibility with fall on the shoulders of the Argentine striker who was directly involved in 27 goals for Inter Milan in the Serie A last season.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN:  Underachieved in the Champions League last season finishing bottom of a group involving Real Madrid, Shaktar Donetsk and Borussia Monchengladbach.

They have not advanced past the group stage of the tournament since the 2011-12 season. 

Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko will look to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku

Lautaro Martinez and Edin Dzeko will look to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku

Juventus

The Bianconeri saw their nine-year stranglehold of the Serie A end as Inter Milan claimed the title while they only just made the Champions League by the skin of their teeth.

Max Allegri is back in charge at the club though Cristiano Ronaldo’s future is uncertain with speculation of a move to Paris Saint-Germain before the end of the transfer window.

Juventus have signed Euro 2020 star Manuel Locatelli and will be hoping to improve in Europe this season after underperforming over recent campaigns.

ONE TO WATCH: Federico Chiesa – Apart from the obvious choice of Ronaldo, Chiesa is another to watch out for as he looks to build on some a great debut season for the club and some impressive performances for Italy to help them win the European Championships. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: In a major upset the Italian giants were eliminated by Porto on away goals. Juventus suffered a 2-1 defeat to Porto away before the second leg went to extra time which saw the Bianconeri eliminated despite a 3-2 victory. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's future at the club is uncertain with links to PSG and Manchester City

Cristiano Ronaldo’s future at the club is uncertain with links to PSG and Manchester City

Lille

The French side exceeded all expectations by shocking all to win the Ligue 1 title ahead of the might of Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG’s recruitment over the summer and Lille’s poor start to the season including a 4-0 defeat at home to Nice means that it already looks like it will be almost impossible for them to retain their title.

They’ve made just one permanent signing this summer in Amadou Onana from Hamburger and will be one that other teams hope to draw from Pot 1.

ONE TO WATCH: Renato Sanches – Will likely miss the start of their Champions League campaign after undergoing knee surgery but the dominant midfielder will be important for Lille in their quest to advance past the group stage.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Last made the Champions League in the 2019/20 season where they finished bottom of a difficult group also involving Valencia, Chelsea and Ajax. 

Renato Sanches will likely miss the start of the tournament after undergoing knee surgery

Renato Sanches will likely miss the start of the tournament after undergoing knee surgery

 Liverpool

The winners of the 2018-19 Champions League endured a frustrating year last season as defensive injuries and a poor run of form meant they were unable to challenge domestically or in Europe.

But with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Jordan Henderson back from injury it looks like they will be a strong force in both competitions again this season.

Despite the lack of incomings their only concern will be if injuries to top stars plague their season once again.

ONE TO WATCH: Diogo Jota – The Portuguese attacker made a great start to life at Liverpool last season and his goals could prove to be a huge asset as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to go further in Europe.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Made it to the quarter-finals last season where they lost 3-1 on aggregate to Real Madrid. 

Diogo Jota could play an important part for Liverpool as will Virgil van Dijk on his return

Diogo Jota could play an important part for Liverpool as will Virgil van Dijk on his return 

Malmo

The Swedish champions have made the group stage for the first time since the 2015-16 season after beating Ludogorets in the play-offs.

Malmo are already mid-way into their league season and sit in second place after 16 games.

This means they will be more than ready for when the Champions League kicks off though they have never made it past the group stage and are unlikely to do so this time around.

ONE TO WATCH: Antonio Colak- The Croatian has been in lethal form for the Swedish side so far in the league contributing to nine goals. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Were knocked out in the Europa League play-offs last season by Granada and were last in the Champions League back in the 2018-19 season, when they were beaten in the third qualifying round by MOL Vidi. 

Malmo advanced to the group stage after defeating Ludogorets in the play-offs

Malmo advanced to the group stage after defeating Ludogorets in the play-offs

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola’s side are still chasing for their first Champions League trophy after their defeat to Chelsea in May.

The club have proven they can deliver the goods domestically after winning three out of the last four Premier League titles.

But Guardiola has been criticised for his tactics in losing efforts in the Champions League over recent seasons and they will be as determined as any club to finally get over the line and lift the trophy.

ONE TO WATCH: Jack Grealish – Their answer to not winning the Champions League was breaking the British record transfer fee to sign Jack Grealish for £100m. 

The former Aston Villa man joined for Champions League football and he will be hoping to make an impression as he gets his first taste of it this season. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Beat Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain on their way to the final where they were beaten by Chelsea after a lacklustre performance. 

A big part of Jack Grealish’s reason to leave Aston Villa was to play Champions League football

Manchester United

The Red Devils have strengthened over the summer after finishing second in the Premier League and losing the Europa League final to Villarreal.  

Their signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane could make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a force both domestically and in Europe this season.

Last year was a disappointing season in Europe for United despite their improvements in the league, which is something the club will be hoping to put right this season.

ONE TO WATCH: Raphael Varane – A serial winner who helped Real Madrid win four Champion League titles alongside Sergio Ramos and it will be hoped he can build a formidable partnership with Harry Maguire at the back. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Were demoted from the Champions League to the Europa League after finishing third in the group stage behind Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig. Made it to the Europa League final where they suffered an 11-10 penalty shootout loss to Villarreal in the final. 

Raphael Varane brings huge Champions League experience with him to Manchester United

Paris Saint-Germain

Arguably the favourites going into the season after an incredible summer of recruitment.

After already signing Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos, they then went one step further by signing one of the greatest of all time in Lionel Messi. 

The club are eager to win their first Champions League trophy and there will be a lot of pressure on manager Mauricio Pochettino to succeed this season. 

Pochettino will hope to keep the front three of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe together with the latter interested in a move to Real Madrid. 

ONE TO WATCH: Lionel Messi – Despite some star-studded line-ups over recent seasons PSG have not been able to cross the line and win the Champions League, though with Lionel Messi alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, they have never been better placed to win the trophy.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Beat the reigning champions Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals before they were outclassed by Manchester City who prevailed 4-1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. 

Paris Saint-Germain have never been better placed to win their first Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain have never been better placed to win their first Champions League

Porto

The Portuguese side are far from the strongest team in the competition but they always have a knack of making the knock-out stage in Europe’s biggest competition.

Porto have been busy in the transfer window making five signings include winger Pepe from Gremio for £13.5m and Marko Grujic from Liverpool after his loan spell at the club last season.

Their experience in the latter stages of Europe make them one of the teams to avoid from Pot 3. 

ONE TO WATCH: Mehdi Taremi – Had a brilliant season for the Portuguese side last season scoring 23 goals and providing 18 assists in all competitions last season.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Stunned Juventus to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League before exiting the competition with a narrow 2-1 aggregate defeat to Chelsea. 

Striker Mehdi Taremi scored 23 goals and provided 18 assists for Porto last season

Striker Mehdi Taremi scored 23 goals and provided 18 assists for Porto last season

RB Leipzig

This makes for an interesting season for the Red Bull backed side with Julian Nagelsmann and Dayot Upamecano now at Bayern Munich and Ibrahima Konate at Liverpool.

They’ve been very busy in the market spending over £80m so far with their marquee signing being Andre Silva who scored 28 league goals for Eintracht Frankfurt last season.

Have made the knockout stage of the Champions League for the past two seasons and as shown against Manchester United last season are capable of pulling off a big result when needed.

ONE TO WATCH: Andre Silva – Had 39 goal involvements in 34 games for Eintracht Frankfurt last season and has already got off the mark for his new club. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN – Got out of a tough group involving Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United but were sent crashing out at the Round of 16 after a 4-0 aggregate defeat to Liverpool. 

Andre Silva is a great signing for RB Leipzig after a great season with Eintracht Frankfurt

Andre Silva is a great signing for RB Leipzig after a great season with Eintracht Frankfurt

Red Bull Salzburg  

The Austrian champions have made the Champions League group stage for the third season running after advancing past Brondby in the play-offs.

After losing Erling Haaland in January 2020, Salzburg have now lost another talented prolific striker in Patson Daka who has signed for Leicester City.

The club though have got some talented youngsters and managed to sign four players in a push to boost their hopes in Europe.

ONE TO WATCH: Karim Adeyemi – Despite losing Haaland and Daka they seem to have another exciting attacking prospect on their hands in Adeyemi. The 19-year-old German has made a fantastic start to the season with seven goals in seven games. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Finished third in their Champions League group last season behind Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid. They were demoted to the Europa League where they suffered a 4-1 aggregate defeat to eventual winners Villarreal in the Round of 32. 

RB Salzburg look to have another great striker coming through in the form of Karim Adeyemi

RB Salzburg look to have another great striker coming through in the form of Karim Adeyemi

Real Madrid 

Disappointed last season even if they only finished two points off eventual La Liga champions Atletico Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane has been replaced by Carlo Ancelotti as manager while the Galacticos lost Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane who were highly pivotal as part of the team that won four Champions League trophies in the last decade. 

The signing of David Alaba is a good one but the Spanish giants might find it hard to challenge in Europe this year unless they are able to pull off a deal for Kylian Mbappe.

ONE TO WATCH: Gareth Bale – The Welshman has worked well under Ancelotti when the Italian was previously manager and he has enjoyed a very good start to the season. Real Madrid will need more from Bale and Eden Hazard this season if they are to succeed in Europe.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Real Madrid made it all the way to the semi-finals of last year’s Champions League before they were outclassed by Chelsea who won 3-1 across the two legs.

Gareth Bale looks to be rejuvenated at Real Madrid since the return of Carlo Ancelotti

Gareth Bale looks to be rejuvenated at Real Madrid since the return of Carlo Ancelotti

Sevilla

The kings of the Europa League have not been able to move their success over to the Champions League as they have only reached the quarter-finals once in the last decade.

Julen Lopetegui’s side finished fourth in LaLiga last season and will be a tricky opponent for any side that draws them.

They have made five signings this summer including Rafa Mir from Wolves and Erik Lamela who has made an explosive start since his arrival on a free from Tottenham.

ONE TO WATCH: Erik Lamela – It never quite worked out for him at Tottenham but he has made a very impressive start to life at the Spanish club scoring three goals in two games and if he is able to continue this form over to Europe he will be a huge asset for Lopetegui’s side.  

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Put in a spirited performance against Borussia Dortmund in the Round of 16 last year but were eliminated after a 5-4 aggregate defeat.

Erik Lamela is looking to be a shrewd signing for Sevilla so far with three goals in two games

Erik Lamela is looking to be a shrewd signing for Sevilla so far with three goals in two games

Shakhtar Donestsk 

The Ukrainian side saw their four-year stranglehold of the country’s Premier League title come to an end after finishing second behind Dynamo Kyiv.

They are Champions League regulars having made the group stage every year since 2010 and accomplished so again after advancing past Monaco in the play-off round.

Shakhtar have been busy in the transfer market after spending over £40m on the likes of Brazilians Pedrinho and Marlon as well as youngster Lassina Traore from Ajax.

ONE TO WATCH: Lassina Traore – The 20-year-old striker from Burkina Faso has made a great start since joining Shakhtar, topping the club’s scoring charts with three goals in four games.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Narrowly missed out on the Round of 16 in last year’s Champions League after finishing third behind Borussia Monchengladbach on head-to-head record in their group. Made the Round of 16 in the Europa League where they were thrashed 5-1 by Roma on aggregate. 

Lassina Traore (right) has impressed since joining Shakhtar Donetsk earlier in the summer

Lassina Traore (right) has impressed since joining Shakhtar Donetsk earlier in the summer

Sheriff Tiraspol  

After 18 failed attempts of attempting to get into the Champions League group stage the Moldovan side have finally completed the task after seeing off Dinamo Zagreb in the play-offs.

It marks the first time that a team from the country has made this stage of the tournament which is a fantastic achievement by itself. 

Whoever they get drawn against they will probably be expected to be seen as the ‘easy’ team of the group but they will go in fighting as they look to create some games to remember.

ONE TO WATCH: Adama Traore – No not that one! Sheriff have a Traore of their own who played a vital part to help them reach the group stage.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Were knocked out in the second qualifying round to Qarabag last season before then losing to Dundalk in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. 

Adama Traore helped inspire Sheriff Tiraspol to the group stage for the very first time

Adama Traore helped inspire Sheriff Tiraspol to the group stage for the very first time

Sporting Lisbon

The club’s 19-year wait for a Portuguese league title came to an end as they beat Porto and Benfica to top spot last season.

Their league triumph means they enter the season on a high and this will be their first participation in the Champions League since the 2017-18 season.

They have got a talented squad and made six signings over the summer including a loan deal for Ruben Vinagre from Wolves. 

ONE TO WATCH: Nuno Mendes – Teenage wonderkid who has alerted the likes of Manchester City after breaking in to the Sporting team at a young age thanks to some stunning performances at left-back.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Were knocked out in the playoff-round of the Europa League last season after a 4-1 defeat to Austrian side LASK.

Were last in the Champions League in 2017-18 where they finished third in a group which also included Barcelona, Juventus and Olympiacos. 

Nuno Mendes is one of Portugal's up and coming stars and has been linked with Man City

Nuno Mendes is one of Portugal’s up and coming stars and has been linked with Man City

Wolfsburg

The German side are back in the Champions League for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

They got into the competition by finishing one point ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt last season.

Wolfsburg have spent over £40m this summer on six players including Lukas Nmecha from Manchester City.

ONE TO WATCH: Wout Weghorst – The experienced striker contributed massively last season with 20 goals and nine assists to help the side finish fourth in the Bundesliga.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Were knocked out in the play-off round of the Europa League by AEK Athens last season. Last made the Champions League in 2015-16 where they reached the quarter finals before losing 3-2 on aggregate to Real Madrid.

Wolfsburg managed by Mark van Bommel are in the competition for the first time since 2016

Wolfsburg managed by Mark van Bommel are in the competition for the first time since 2016

Villarreal

Only finished seventh in LaLiga last season but make the competition following their shocking Europa League triumph over Manchester United back in May.

By winning their first trophy in the club’s history, they will sit in Pot 1 and will be one of the teams that clubs are happy to get in Friday’s draw.

Over the summer the club have signed Juan Foyth on a permanent deal after his loan spell from Tottenham last summer and Bournemouth’s Arnaut Danjuma.

ONE TO WATCH: Gerard Moreno – Deadly striker who scored 30 goals in 46 games in all competitions last season including the opener in the Europa League final.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN: Europa League final with Manchester United went to a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw, in which they won 11-10 after David de Gea’s spot-kick was saved.

They last made the Champions League group stage in the 2011-12 season where they finished bottom of a group involving Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Napoli. 

Villarreal clinched the first trophy in the club's history by winning the Europa League

Villarreal clinched the first trophy in the club’s history by winning the Europa League

Young Boys

The Swiss champions have made the group stage for the first time since the 2018-19 season after beating Ferencvaros in the play-offs.

They have signed four players this summer including youngster Yannick Toure from Newcastle.

Will find it tough in their efforts to make the knockout stage of the tournament.

ONE TO WATCH: Jordan Siebatcheu – The 25-year-old American striker will be important especially in the potential absence of Jean-Pierre Nsame who was linked with Celtic before suffering an achilles tear at the end of last season.

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN:  Knocked out by Midtjylland in the third qualifying round of the Champions League last season before going out at the Round of 16 to Ajax in the Europa League.

Young Boys made the group stage for the first time since 2018-19 after their play-offs win

Young Boys made the group stage for the first time since 2018-19 after their play-offs win

Zenit St Petersburg 

The Russian side enter the season on the back of their third successive league title but will be hoping for better in Europe this time around.

Zenit have not made the knockout stage of the Champions League since the 2015-16 season and have since either been eliminated in the group stage or contending in the Europa League.

The club have signed Brazilian forward Claudinho who scored 20 goals in 50 appearances for Red Bull Bragantino and it is hoped he will add to the goals currently contributed by strikers Artem Dyzuba and Sardar Azmoun.

ONE TO WATCH:  Sardar Azmoun – Scored or assisted 25 goals in the Russian Premier League last season and has got this campaign off to a flyer netting four times in the opening five games. 

LAST EUROPEAN CAMPAIGN – Knocked out in the group stage last season after failing to win a game in a group involving Borussia Dortmund, Lazio and Club Brugge. 

Zenit St Petersburg have fire power up front with Sardar Azmoun and Artem Dyzuba

Zenit St Petersburg have fire power up front with Sardar Azmoun and Artem Dyzuba

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