Champions League Draw: Manchester City and Other Competitors Seek to Avoid Real Madrid


The top clubs from Pot 1 of the UEFA Champions League football competition draw, scheduled for Thursday in Monaco, including English side Manchester City, the reigning champions, are eager to avoid being placed in the same group as Spanish giants Real Madrid, who are in Pot 2.

Real Madrid, with a record 14 continental titles, stands as one of the strongest teams that other European clubs aim to avoid on their path to the final at Wembley Stadium.

Pot 1 includes Manchester City, the reigning champions who claimed their first-ever title in the competition, Sevilla from Spain, the Europa League winners, Barcelona, La Liga champions, Napoli, Serie A winners, Bayern Munich, Bundesliga champions, Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1 victors, Benfica, Portuguese champions, and Feyenoord, Dutch champions.

Despite losing their former French international captain and top scorer Karim Benzema to Saudi club Al-Ittihad, Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, and Brazilian defender Eder Militao due to injury, Real Madrid remains one of the top contenders for the European title.

Under the guidance of Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti, the team relies on their promising new English international signing, Jude Bellingham (20 years old), who has scored four goals in three league matches since joining from Borussia Dortmund.

Inter Milan, the Italian runners-up from the previous edition, remains one of the clubs teams would prefer to avoid in the group stage. They are placed in Pot 2 alongside Real Madrid, fellow countrymen Atletico Madrid, English sides Manchester United and Arsenal, German teams RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, and Portuguese outfit Porto.

Manchester City, who claimed the continental Super Cup against Sevilla on penalties, aims to solidify their European dominance by retaining the title. Their additions, including Croatian defender Josko Gvardiol, his compatriot and midfielder Mateo Kovacic, and Belgian winger Jeremy Doku, highlight their ambitions.

Possibly, a renewed encounter between Manchester City and Inter, as well as Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, could take place. These two clubs have been drawn in the same group several times in the competition, fueling speculation around the Parisian star Kylian Mbappe, who has been consistently linked with a move to Real Madrid in recent years.

Mbappe, who initially refused to renew his contract with Paris Saint-Germain beyond 2025, is showing renewed prowess in the French club, recently scoring twice against Lens in Ligue 1. PSG, the runners-up from 2020 when they lost to Bayern Munich, has lost star players Lionel Messi to Inter Miami and Neymar to Al-Hilal.

Bayern Munich strengthened their squad with the English striker Harry Kane for 100 million euros, hoping to end their title drought. Similarly, Kane's performance in Germany mirrors Mbappe's, as he scored three goals in two matches.

Napoli, led by their French coach Rudi Garcia, relies on their Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen, who has also scored three goals in two matches. Sevilla, the seven-time Europa League champions, hopes to bounce back in the Champions League after a challenging start to the season in La Liga.

The group stage includes formidable teams, including AC Milan, winners of the competition seven times, Lazio from Italy, and English side Newcastle United, returning to the competition for the first time since the 2002-2003 season, reminiscent of their star Alan Shearer's era.

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