Welcome to the Group of Death, fam!
The draw for the 2023-24 Champions League group stage took place on Thursday, Aug. 31, with Newcastle United appearing in the group stage of the competition for the first time since 2002 and drawing PSG, AC Milan, and Borussia Dortmund in Group F.
The Magpies, who entered the draw in Pot 4 among the lowest-ranked teams in European Coefficient because of their lack of experience and appearances in continental competitions in recent seasons, were paired with the reigning champions of France, the semi-finalists of last year’s Champions League, and the runner-ups of last season’s Bundesliga.
Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Champions League season and the rivals of NUFC in the group stage.
Newcastle United Rivals
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
PSG is obviously the best team in Group F, and it’s not even close. The French richmen have invested substantially, retained Mbappe, and signed 12 players through Thursday with the potential arrival of one or two more pieces in the final hours of the transfer market.
That said, their journey to the French title last season was far from smooth, as they faced an unexpected challenge from Lens and they couldn’t clinch their record-breaking 11th Ligue 1 title until the final game of the season. Moreover, this summer saw the departure of two of this generation’s greatest players, Lionel Messi and Neymar.
New manager Luis Enrique failed to win any of the first two league games played by the team, but he finally broke for his first victory last weekend.
AC Milan (ITA)
Same as PSG, Milan is a bit of an incognita as they’ve added eight new players to a squad that has undergone significant changes compared to the previous season, when they reached the semi-finals of the competition.
The departure of Tonali, who signed with Newcastle, stands out prominently when it comes to sales.
It’s worth noting that Newcastle managed to secure Botman’s signature, while also capturing the captain of the Italian giants.
Last season, Milan occasionally struggled in midfield, even with Tonali in the ranks. Therefore, much hinges on how effectively their new additions, Yunus Musah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Tijjani Reignders, can acclimate themselves to the team quickly.
Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Dortmund stumbled in last year’s Bundesliga, losing it after failing to earn three points on the final matchday of the season and finishing in second place to Bayern Munich.
While BVB is likely to improve as the season progresses, their squad appears to have weakened rather than strengthened over the summer, especially with the departure of Jude Bellingham.
Over the past decade, Dortmund has consistently featured world-class young talents in their squads, including the likes of Bellingham, Erling Haaland, Ousmane Dembele, Jadon Sancho, and current Magpie Alexander Isak.
However, the current team lacks players of similar caliber and there are serious concerns about whether head coach Edin Terzic can establish an effective attacking system instead of relying solely on counter-attacking football.
Group Stage Schedule
Matchday 1: 19/20 September 2023
Matchday 2: 3/4 October 2023
Matchday 3: 24/25 October 2023
Matchday 4: 7/8 November 2023
Matchday 5: 28/29 November 2023
Matchday 6: 12/13 December 2023
Future Key Dates
Round of 16 draw: 18 December 2023
Quarter-final and Semi-final draw: 15 March 2024
UCL Final: 1 June 2024