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UEFA Champions League: The Champions League will reveal the widening gap between the elite and the rest. Follow LIVE updates of the Champions League

UEFA Champions League: Thirty years after the beginnings of the modern Champions League, the group stage of this year’s competition begins today…

UEFA Champions League:Thirty years after the start of the modern Champions League, the group stage of this year’s competition gets underway in its current format this week in the penultimate year, as Real Madrid begin their title defense. Marseille were champions that inaugural 1992/93 season but no French club have lifted the trophy since then and England, Spain, Italy and Germany have provided every winner since Jose Mourinho’s Porto triumphed in 2004.Follow Champions League LIVE updates with InsideSport.IN

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UEFA Champions League: The Champions League will reveal the widening gap between the elite and the rest. Follow LIVE updates of the Champions League

In fact, since Inter’s triumph in 2010, only five clubs have lifted the trophy – Barcelona, ​​Chelsea and Bayern Munich have been crowned champions twice. Meanwhile, Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 in Paris in May to become European champions for the fifth time in nine years, attesting to the continued brilliance of veteran stars like Luka Modric and Karim Benzema. They will arrive with the goal of winning their 15th European Cup in Istanbul next June, although the group stage is unlikely to worry Carlo Ancelotti’s side too much. Real face RB Leipzig, Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk in Group F, knowing full well that even a home defeat by Sheriff Tiraspol last year was ultimately irrelevant.

The Champions League will reveal the ever-widening gap between the elite and the rest
The Champions League will reveal the opening chasm
between elite and the rest

“Last year the easiest game was supposedly against Sheriff at the Bernabeu and we lost it, so we have to respect those teams,” Ancelotti told Spanish media.
He was also quick to point out another factor that could come into play this season. The group stage usually ends in December, but the World Cup has forced UEFA to fit all six Champions League matches into a nine-week period that starts earlier than usual. “We not only have to adjust to the quality of the opponent, but also to the different demands and rhythms,” said Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp, whose team is in Napoli on Wednesday to concede the final defeat against Real last May behind them.

It could be that the real impact of this will only be felt when the knockout stages begin in February, when many players from Europe’s biggest clubs have to endure the grueling experience of a mid-season World Cup. Still, the notion that someone outside of a narrow group of elite clubs could win the Champions League is fanciful

Real will not start as a favorite, especially against Manchester City and a reinforced Paris Saint-Germain. “The Champions League brings out the best in players, fans and teams. It would be very limiting to say that PSG are the favourites,” stressed PSG coach Christophe Galtier. Liverpool and Bayern are also contenders but the jury is out on Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur or Barcelona.

From 2024, the group stage will be expanded from 32 to 36 clubs, with all teams in one pool and playing eight games instead of eight four-team groups. This will shake up a first phase that has become too predictable. The greatest excitement this time is in Group C, where Bayern, Barcelona and Inter Milan – who have 14 European Cup winners in total – join Czech champions Viktoria Pilsen.

It’s entirely possible that Barcelona are eliminated from the group stage for the second year in a row after a tight season selling assets to bolster their squad despite huge debts. “We have a very difficult group. Possibly the toughest of the last 20 years,” warned Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez.
While Barcelona have strengthened, even most clubs in the Champions League these days cannot keep their best players. Not so long ago, a group that includes both Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla would have been fraught with danger for Manchester City. But City themselves have rid Dortmund of Erling Haaland, while Sevilla have lost their center-back pairing from last season’s Jules

Kounde and Diego Carlos and are weakened by it. Ajax, in Group A with Liverpool, Napoli and Rangers, lost coaches Erik ten Hag, Lisandro Martinez and Antony to Manchester United, among others, and sold top scorer Sebastien Haller to Dortmund. Benfica meet PSG, Juventus and Maccabi Haifa in Group H after leading goalscorer Darwin Nunez was sold to Liverpool. Their Lisbon rivals Sporting saw key midfielders Matheus Nunes and Joao Palhinha join England, to Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fulham respectively. Club Brugge, Salzburg and FC Copenhagen have all lost their top scorers from last season. So does Viktoria Pilsen, whose French striker Jean-David Beauguel went to Saudi Arabia. These clubs are all minnows in the Champions League pond and most will make up the number.

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