Here’s a quick word on each of the 32 sides that qualified for the Champions League group stages.
Won the Eredivisie to qualify automatically
The most successful Dutch team ever having won 36 leagues and 20 cups. Ajax have won 8 European trophies and made the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2019. Typically have a rebuilding job on their hands after each season with multiple young talents moving on to bigger money clubs.
Finished 3rd in Serie A to qualify automatically
Domestically the last few seasons have seen Napoli have some false dawns in terms of title challenges, but still consistently make the Champions League. Some big names have departed including Senegalese captain Kalidou Koulibaly, midfielder Fabian Ruiz, and playmaker Lorenzo Insigne.
Finished 2nd in the English Premier League to qualify automatically
Beaten finalists last season, Liverpool were very close to ending their campaign with 4 trophies. They’ve won this competition more than any other English side, but have had a slow frustrating start to the league campaign after lifting the Community Shield.
Entered into the 3rd Qualifying Round as Scottish Premiership Runners-up
Close to being top seeds in the competition but lost the Europa League on penalties last season. The 4th oldest club in Scotland were forced to make their way up through the Scottish leagues having entered administration in 2012.
Won the Primiera Liga to qualify automatically
Came out of nowhere to win the competition in 2004 under a Portuguese coach who is probably still around somewhere. 3 Portuguese titles in 5 seasons have meant they are ever presents in the Champions League.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Finished 3rd in the German Bundesliga to qualify automatically
Leverkusen hold the record for the most 2nd place finishes in the German league without ever winning it. The made the Champions League Final in 2002 but were beaten by Real Madrid. Czech star Patrick Schick will be their key man for goals.
Atletico de Madrid
Finished 3rd in La Liga to qualify automatically
Became something of a romantics dream during the last decade. Atleti broke the duopoly of Barca and Real by winning La Liga, and were inches away on two occasions from winning the Champions League. Diego Simeone’s side aren’t underdogs anymore, but you can still expect plenty of shithousery.
Won the Belgian First Division A to qualify automatically
Runners-up of the European Cup back in the 70’s, Club Brugge are the only Belgian team to have reached the final. They are the record holders for the most consecutive seasons of the Europa League at 20, but didn’t feature last season as they finished bottom of their UCL group with 4 points.
Won the German Bundesliga to qualify automatically
Bayern have won 10 German Bundesliga titles in a row. In that time they have lifted the Champions League twice. Ever green Thomas Müller and new signing Sadio Mané will lead the line. Superstar Joshua Kimmich has moved from his usual Right-Back position to a more central midfield role in the league games.
Finished 2nd in Serie A to qualify automatically
Resigning Romelu Lukaku on loan will give them a big boost up front, last time he played for Inter his goals helped them win the league. Left-Back Robin Gosens and Forward Joaquin Correa are two new faces who could play a big part this season.
Finishes 2nd in La Liga to qualify automatically
For a team that is supposedly in financial disarray Barca have made multiple high profile signings. Young guns Pedri, Ansu Fati, and Frenkie De Jong will provide the spine of the team for years to come.
Entered the second qualifying round as Czech First League
Improved domestically last season from finishing 5th in the previous campaign. The Czech Champions were eliminated in the Conference League Play-Offs last season, which may have helped them win the league. This is there 4th time reaching the groups stages of the Champions League. Viktoria Plzeň currently sit 2nd domestically and are unbeaten in the league. They’ve scored 11 goals.
Things to look out for: Robert Lewandowski will return to Bayern Munich after forcing through a move to Barcelona over the Summer.
Won the Europa League to qualify automatically
The German side will be regarded as the favorable top seed to be drawn against having finished in the bottom half of the Bundesliga last season. Frankfurt were fairly flat in the Super Cup. Former world cup winning goal scorer Mario Götze plays for them. Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp is an important figure, as is journeyman captain Sebastian Rode. This is their debut in the competition.
Finished 2nd in the Primeira Liga to qualify automatically
Won their first league title in 19 years two seasons ago. Midfielder Pedro Gonçalves is their key man. Mixed results so far in the league see them sitting in 7th position.
Finished 4th in the English Premier League to qualify automatically
Transformed under Antonio Conte, Spurs are now title contenders in England. Somehow made the final in 2019, this Tottenham team is now a lot more of a serious threat when it comes to winning trophies. Plenty of goals in the team with Harry Kane , Song Heung-min, and new signing Dejan Kulusevski.
Olympique de Marseille
Finished 2nd in Ligue 1 to qualify automatically
Won the Champions League in 1993, and remain the only French side to have done so. Unbeaten start to Ligue 1, Marseille are expected to be title contenders. Dimitri Payet is their captain.
Won Serie A to qualify automatically
One time giants of European Football. Milan won their first league title in 11 seasons to get back in the big time. Mike Maignan in net is already a superstar with young players like Alexis Saelemaekers and Sandro Tonali set to possibly have breakthrough seasons. They’ve won 7 European Cups, the most recent of which was in 2007.
Red Bull Salzburg
Won the Austrian Bundesliga to qualify automatically
One of two energy drink sides in the competition. The dominant side in Austria in recent seasons.
Finished 3rd in the English Premier League to qualify automatically
Won the whole thing in 2021. A bit of an enigma under Thomas Tuchel where things can be going really well or really badly. N’Golo Kanté returning from injury will be huge. Kai Havertz is the key man for the goals.
GNK Dinamo Zagreb
Entered the second qualifying round as Prva HNL Champions
The club that produced Luka Modric. Dinamo Zagreb have won a record 23 Croatian league titles. Their last game was their 150th European Cup game including qualifiers.
Won the Champions League to qualify automatically
Went all the way last season coming from behind multiple times. Karim Benzema is the best striker in the world at the moment with Vinícius Júnor backing him up. Young guns Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga will help provide energy in a midfield with Luka Modric and Toni Kroos providing the experience. Super Cup winners.
Qualified automatically as the team that was top of the Ukrainian Premier League when it was abandoned
Will be playing their home games in Poland. Football is far from the biggest story in Ukraine with the ongoing war.
Finished 2nd in the German Bundesliga to qualify automatically
Another energy drink side. Known as the most hated team in Germany. Christopher Nkunku is their key man.
Won the Scottish Premiership to qualify automatically
Australian Ange Pstecoglou led Celtic to regain their league title last year. It’s Celtic’s first appearance in the group stage since 2008, and once again they are drawn to play the reigning champions. Ange ball has served them well this season with the Glasgow side so far. Kyogo Furuhasi, Liel Abada, and Jota will be key for them going forward.
Won the English Premier League to qualify automatically
Lots of money. Lots of goals. They’ve already scored 21 in 7 competitive games this season with Erling Haaland scoring almost half of those.
Finished 2nd in the German Bundesliga to qualify automatically
The last team to win the German Bundesliga that wasn’t Bayern Munich.
Finished 4th in La Liga to qualify automatically
The masters of the Europa League. Yet to really excel in the Champions League despite becoming a consistent top 4 team in Spain.
Entered the play-off round as Danish Superliga Champions
Have played in European Football in all but one season since being established in 1992. The most successful Danish side when it comes to Europe, making the Last 16 of the UCL in 2011 and the Quarter-Finals of the Europa League in 2020.
Look Out For: In rounds 2 and 5 Haaland comes up against his former club Dortmund.
Won Ligue 1 to qualify automatically
Big money. Yet to win a European trophy since the big money takeover in 2011, but did previously win the Cup Winners’ Cup. Dominant domestically thanks to their spending power.
Entered the third qualifying round having finished 3rd in the Primeira Liga
Made the Quarter Finals last time but under-performed in the league. Benfica have lost a key man in Darwin Nunez.
Finished 4th in Serie A to qualify automatically
Winning 9 consecutive Serie A titles didn’t translate to much European success. The Turin side has fallen down the pecking order in Italy in recent seasons. Hold the distinction of the most losses in the European Cup Finals.
Entered the second qualifying round as champions of the Israeli Premier League
A 3rd appearance in the Champions League group stage, and a first since 2010. More UCL appearances than any Israeli team.
Fun Fact: Juventus and Benfica are the only teams to have lost more European Cup finals then they have won (Juventus won 2 and lost 7, Benfica won 2 and lost 5).
Group Stage Match Dates