The stage has been set for the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League after all 32 teams were allocated into their respective groups following the draw in Monaco on August 29, 2019.
For the past three campaigns, Real Madrid have headed into the competition as reigning champions winning back-to-back-to-back titles. Yet after the disastrous campaign last season they were seeded in Pot B rather than Pot A.
As a result, the club was set to be drawn alongside at least one heavy-weight team that could cause problems for advancing to the knock-out stages. But with the help of some luck from the football gods, the Spanish club’s draw was not that bad.
Zinedine Zidane’s team will play against Ligue 1 Champions Paris Saint-Germain, Belgian giants Club Brugge and Super Lig rulers, Galatasaray S.K.
On paper, the route to the Round of 16 seems an optimistic one.
See an in-depth review of each club below.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG)
Stadium: Parc des Princes, Paris, France, (49,600)
Head Coach: Thomas Tuchel
2018/19 Campaign: Last sixteen
Out of all the possible Pot A teams, Real Madrid could have drawn against tough talent but this French club will be a good match up and these two clubs have an intertwining history.
The most recent meeting between the two sides was back in the Round of 16 in the 2017/18 Champions League and Madrid won both games amidst two thrilling ties.
Both clubs also share interest in multiple players. In this year’s transfer window, Neymar Jr., Kylian Mbappe and Keylor Navas have all been rumoured with moves to the opposite club but nothing is confirmed as of today. Former Madrid players, Angel Di Maria and Jese Rodriguez have each represented both crests.
The attacking capabilities of Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar Junior been known to cause major problems for opponents and Madrid’s defence will need to make sure they are solid in order to limit the trio to little scoring chances.
Playing away in the Parc des Princes will also be a challenging task for Zidane’s side so they will need to make the most of every opportunity to grab away goals. If they repeat what they did in March, 2018, things should go okay.
Player to watch: Central midfielder Julian Draxler (25) is a commanding force on the pitch for both club and country (Germany). His presence on the ball will be vital to how PSG create ways to attack against Los Blancos.
Club Brugge KV
Stadium: Jan-Breydel-Stadion (29,000)
Head Coach: Philippe Clement
2018/19 Campaign: Group Stage
Real Madrid have only met up against the Jupiler Pro League side once before, all the way back in the Round of 16 of the 1967/77 Champions League. The Spanish side advanced after winning 2-0 away from home and drawing 0-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
This new and improved side however achieved their goal of participating in their third Champions League competition in the last four seasons and is keen on improving in the European competition.
A lot of leadership within the Belgian side will come from midfielder Hans Vanakan and his contributions both on the pitch and in the locker room will be key to helping the club make the most of this competition. Something else Zidane’s club should look out for is Brugge’s counter-attacking dynamic, it’s proven to help them in the past and is key to the way they play.
In Madrid’s case however, this matchup should not be that difficult and the team must to capitalize on the opportunity to grab a big goal differential.
Player to watch: Newly signed striker David Okereke, (22), has already proved to be a beneficial attacking threat for the club having scored four times and bagged one assist across eight appearances. No doubt he will look to continue his first season with his new club in the best way possible.
Stadium: : Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Türk Telekom Stadyumu (52,200)
Head Coach: Fatih Terim
2018/19 Campaign: Group Stage
In the past, the most successful Turkish club in history has given Real Madrid some troubles edging beating them in the 2000/01 Super Cup and also challenging them in the quarter finals of the 2012/13 Champions League.
Now after retaining their title in the Super Lig and winning yet another Turkish Super Cup, the club will want to take their success outside of domestic competition and the away fixture for Real Madrid could be an issue.
The Turkish League is one of the fiercest across Europe with big name teams all vying for their own trophies. As a result, the home fans are extremely dedicated to their club and can cause a real havoc for opposing teams. In Galatasaray’s case, the fans cover the stadium with red and orange and sing to their hearts content. Limiting the atmosphere’s affect on the players will be a difficult task for the club and Galatasaray could capitalize as a result.
Player to watch: Dutch international Ryan Babel (32) is showing no signs of slowing down as he starts playing for his ninth club in his professional career. Gifted with the experience of multiple years in football Babel still poses as an attacking threat for Galatasaray that Madrid should watch out for.