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For the first time in two decades the Champions League begins without Messi or Cristiano

For the first time in two decades the Champions League begins without Messi or Cristiano

The European Champions League, the most prestigious club tournament in the world, will begin its group stage today in search of the 16 best for the final stages with a marked feeling of nostalgia due to the absence of its two greatest historical references: the Argentine Lionel Messi and the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo.

For the first time in twenty years, the regular phase of the Champions League “will not have CR7 or the “Flea”, protagonists of a period duel that gave the continental competition global interest.

Cristiano, now 38 years old at Al Nasrr in Saudi Arabia, is an unavoidable emblem of the “Orejona” based on his record of appearances (183 games) and goals (140) achieved with his participation as a footballer for Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

The Portuguese is also part of the group of players who have lifted the trophy five times (2008, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018), one less than the maximum champion, the Spanish Paco Gento.

Messi (36 years old), current Inter Miami footballer, will also be oblivious to the great celebration of European football, of which he was an uninterrupted part from his debut with Barcelona in the 2004-05 edition until the last function he played with Paris Saint-Germain.

The captain of the Argentine national team, four-time champion (2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015), follows Cristiano in the table of historical scorers with 129 goals and is the third player with the greatest presence (163) after the Portuguese and the former Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas (177).

In the absence of both, the Norwegian Erling Haaland, from the champion Manchester City, leads along with the French Kylian Mbappé (PSG) the group of stars that illuminates the UEFA competition, whose final will be played on June 1, 2024 in the legendary stadium Wembley, London.

Haaland was the “top scorer” of the last edition with twelve goals in eleven games in the campaign that crowned Pep Guardiola’s “Citizens” for the first time.

The champion, in which a growing role is expected from the Argentine Julián Álvarez, starter in the first five rounds of the Premier League, will debut today at home to Red Star Belgrade, European champion 1990/91.

Manchester City was seeded in an accessible Group G that is completed by Leipzig from Germany and Young Boys from Switzerland, which will also debut today at the Wankdorf stadium in the city of Bern.

The first day of the group stage also includes the presentation of Diego Simeone’s Atlético de Madrid, a stable protagonist of the last decade, who played in the 2014 and 2016 finals, both lost with Real Madrid.

“Colchonero” will open Group E as a visitor to Lazio of Italy, without the presence of Rodrigo De Paul (injured) but with two other world champions at their disposal: full-back Nahuel Molina and forward Ángel Correa.

In Group F, Spanish Luis Enrique’s new PSG will make a new attempt to conquer Europe, now without Messi, and in its first stop it will take on the difficulty of facing a Bundesliga great: Borussia Dortmund.

The Germans know how much the “Orejona” weighs, since they lifted it in 1997 and were about to repeat it in the 2013 definition against Bayern Munich. The German giant will seek its seventh title this season.

Milan has seven stars, which in the same Group F, will be home to Newcastle United in another of Tuesday’s outstanding matches, which will also have Barcelona’s debut against Belgium’s Antwerp with the intention of winning its first Champions League of the era. post Messi.

Match program
from the first date

Today: Group F: Milan-Newcastle (1:45 p.m., Fox Sports and Star+) and PSG-Borussia Dortmund (4:00 p.m., Fox Sports 2 and Star+). Group G: Young Boys-Leipzig (1:45 p.m., ESPN 2 and Star+) and Manchester City-Estrella Roja (4:00 p.m., ESPN and Star+). Group H: Shakhtar Donetsk-Porto (16:00, ESPN 3 and Star+) and Barcelona-Antwerp (16:00, ESPN 2 and Star+). Group E: Lazio-Atlético de Madrid (4:00 p.m., Fox Sports and Star+) and Feyenoord-Celtic Glasgow (4:00 p.m., Fox Sports 3 and Star+).

Tomorrow: Group A: Galatasaray-Copenhagen (1:45 p.m., ESPN and Star+); Bayern Munich-Manchester United (4:00 p.m., ESPN and Star+). Group B: Arsenal-PSV Eindhoven (4:00 p.m., Fox Sports 3 and Star+) and Sevilla-Lens (4:00 p.m., ESPN 2 and Star+). Group C: Real Madrid-Union Berlin (1:45 p.m., Fox Sports and Star+) Braga-Napoli (4:00 p.m., ESPN 3 and Star+). Group D: Benfica-Salzburg (16.00, Fox Sports 2 and Star+) and Real Sociedad-Inter (16.00, Fox Sports and Star+).

Source: Ambito

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