Another season, another exciting set of groups for the opening stage of this season's UEFA Champions League.
The summer transfer window has now been and gone, and there is no questioning that it was the most unbelievable window yet in terms of sheer movement.
So can Chelsea retain 'big ears' this year? Or is it time for Messi to finally do at PSG what he couldn't in his twilight years at Barcelona?
These questions will all be answered in due course, however for now it is the group stages that the footballing world casts their eyes towards.
Check out how we think each group will pan out:
- Manchester City (16pts)
- Paris Saint-Germain (13pts)
- RB Leipzig (6pts)
- Club Brugge (0pts)
This quartet is a red-hot contender for the group of death.
Last year's semi-finalist PSG will once again meet Manchester City, with their tie last time out ending in joy for the 'Cityzens'. It is hard to see Pep Guardiola's side having trouble progressing through and may only find adversity in the away leg in Paris.
PSG despite their incredible summer of business are still seen by some to be second-best to City as the outright top team in Europe, however don't be surprised to see them atop the group if Messi, Neymar and Mbappe click early-on in the competition.
Leipzig aren't pushovers by any stretch and it's horrid luck they've been drawn with the best two sides on the continent. If they were put in any other group they would have had a very good chance at progressing but will likely have to settle for a third-placed Europa League spot.
Lastly, Club Brugge theoretically have little-to-no chance of making it out of a group with two giant clubs within it. If they manage to pull out some spirited draws or, better yet, a win against Leipzig then perhaps Europe League might be on the cards.
- Atletico Madrid (12pts)
- Liverpool (11pts)
- AC Milan (6pts)
- FC Porto (1pts)
Another potential group of death is Group B, with Liverpool, Atletico, Porto and Milan all vying to progress through to the knockouts.
Liverpool and Atletico should both sail through, however the order in which they do is debatable. Based off of recent history the Reds should find Madrid difficult to overcome, however you never know with Liverpool - especially at Anfield.
Atletico recaptured French forward Antoine Griezmann on loan from Barca after a short stint at the Nou Camp. If he can get back to his best and those around him can play to his strengths, then expect for Atletico to be a very scary prospect this year.
Milan won't find much joy despite their perfect start to the Serie A season. They may scrounge a draw against one of the big boys but will likely finish in third with the quality of their squad still a ways off compared to the sides above them.
As for Porto there is a chance they could spring a surprise similarly to Milan but the odds of them doing so especially against a team such as Diego Simeone's Atleti, who pride themselves on dogged defensive work, are slim.
- Borussia Dortmund (13pts)
- Ajax (11pts)
- Sporting CP (8pts)
- Besiktas (1pts)
This could be a very tight group, however the cream should rise to the top in the form of Dortmund finding a way through. The likes of Erling Haaland and Thorgan Hazard should prove too much for opposition defences even though Dortmund's rearguard hasn't been exactly watertight so far this year.
Ajax are a still a side of immense quality despite being sucked dry by bigger clubs for their talent in recent times. Dusan Tadic is their star man and should have a field day against the lesser teams in this group with his creativity.
Sporting Lisbon should be able to scrape in for a Europa League place but could very well topple Ajax on their day if the reigning Eredivisie champs aren't at 100%. Turkish champions Besiktas don't exactly look threatening in comparison to those around them however rule them out at your own peril, especially at home with the electrifying atmosphere their fans provide.
- Real Madrid (16pts)
- Inter Milan (13pts)
- Shaktar Donetsk (6pts)
- Sheriff Tiraspol (0pts)
This one should be a fairly straight-forward group, with two clear heavyweights and two UCL minnows making up what is Group D.
Madrid for all their decline in the past couple of years still boast a capable side despite the departure of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane in the summer. It seems very much down to Karim Benzema and Vinicius Jr. in terms of goal-scoring output, so if Inter figure out a plan to shut them down in their fixtures then the top two here could very well be swapped around.
Inter had their star man in Romelu Lukaku taken off them by Chelsea in August and now must find it within themselves to cover the plethora of goals he brought to the side. In saying this, the likes of Edin Dzeko and Joaquin Correa seem to have slotted nicely into Simone Inzaghi's lineup, meaning Inter may not miss the big Belgian as much as first thought.
Shaktar and UCL newcomers Sheriff will very likely exit the group stages, with Shaktar dropping to the Europa League.
- Bayern Munich (18pts)
- FC Barcelona (12pts)
- SL Benfica (6pts)
- Dynamo Kyiv (0pts)
The big boys of this group in the form of Bayern and Barca will likely progress through with relative ease, however the former may be too much for all-comers to handle.
Bayern, spearheaded by the innate goal-scoring ability of Robert Lewandowski, will likely be able to beat Barcelona convincingly home and away off-the-back of the Spanish sides' financial peril and ensuing sale of Lionel Messi.
In saying this, Barca still have a solid team to build from with Memphis Depay being a fantastic purchase for the Catalan club. Throw in the prodigious 'Iniesta-Xavi hybrid' of Pedri as well as Dutch midfielder Frenkie De Jong and perhaps Ronald Koeman's side might be able to make something happen.
Benfica will likely find the top-two finishers too hot to handle but should beat out Dynamo Kyiv to the Europa League spot, with the Portuguese heavyweights continuing their continental adventure into 2022.
- Manchester United (14pts)
- Atalanta (11pts)
- Villarreal CF (8pts)
- BSC Young Boys (0pts)
Manchester United, buoyed by the signing of homecoming hero Cristiano Ronaldo, should top this group with relative ease. Whilst the side are still without a true holding midfielder - which may 'hold' them back - their attacking prowess with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Mason Greenwood amongst others will carry them through.
Atalanta should be able to beat out Villarreal to safety in this group, with the Italian club having established themselves as a UCL regular in recent times with their impressive finished in Serie A.
Last year's Europa League champions Villarreal would be licking their lips at being able to play the side they dispatched on pens to win the competition in United, however Unai Emery's side will likely find themselves back in their natural environment with a third placed finish to go back down to the Europa League.
Swiss side Young Boys are tipped to be the whipping boys of this group with their side simply not being able to measure up to the bigger clubs. A point or two at home against second and third placed sides should be classed as a success for David Wagner's side.
- Sevilla FC (14pts)
- Vfl Wolfsburg (11pts)
- LOSC Lille (6pts)
- FC Salzburg (1pts)
Sevilla are looking solid in La Liga this season and should be looking to top the group with the talent they have. Retaining French centre-half Jules Kounde, despite the intense advances from Chelsea, could be key to their chances in both the league and on the continent this season.
Wolfsburg have started in red-hot form this year, winning all three of their opening Bundesliga games as they look to have a tilt at the Champions League this year. It'll be closely contested between Sevilla and them, so the order at the top in this prediction could be reversed come December.
Lille for all their French league glory last season may struggle this season with their squad not looking like it has what it takes to progress past the group stage. An exit to the Europa League could be on the cards and would give the club a better chance at silverware in 2021/22.
Salzburg have been decimated by poaching clubs in Europe in recent times and should finish bottom of the group, with the Austrian side likely making it into the UCL again next year with the Austrian Bundesliga being a procession more often then not.
- Chelsea (16pts)
- Juventus (11pts)
- Zenit St. Petersburg (7pts)
- Malmo FF (0 pts)
Chelsea have started this year with intent and are amongst those touted to be in the running for the Premier League. As for Europe, their run at defending their Champions League title starts with a relatively easy group. With the well-drilled squad that Thomas Tuchel has at his disposal and the decline of Juventus, it's hard to see Chelsea not topping this one.
Speaking of 'The Old Lady', Juventus have been woeful and have had their troubles compounded in recent weeks by the departure of Ronaldo. The 36-year-old accounted for a huge chunk of their goals and despite the loan signings of Alvaro Morata and Moise Kean, it's yet to be seen of Massimiliano Allegri can snap his side back into form.
Zenit and Malmo will be the ones who take most of the blows in Group H, with the former potentially nicking a point or two off first and second if things go their way.