Football enthusiasts have found it hard to shake the resonant League anthem, which chants: ‘These are the champions! Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes! The champions!’
However, before any club can dare to dream of making it to next year’s final at Wembley Stadium, they must first navigate the challenging group stage hurdle.
As we approach the kickoff of the tournament, here are the five must-watch games for the opening round of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League:
Top 5 unmissable UCL games on matchweek one:
September 19 – Barcelona vs Royal Antwerp
Barcelona is set to participate in their 20th consecutive UCL group stage match, commencing against Royal Antwerp. Interestingly, the last encounter between these two teams took place in the 1965/66 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup.
Following a series of lacklustre performances in recent events that led to consecutive group stage eliminations, Xavi’s squad is determined to rewrite their Champions League narrative. Their mission begins at their temporary home ground of Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys.
The Catalan giants will aim to build on the momentum gained from their impressive 5-0 victory over Real Betis, setting the stage for what they hope will be a promising journey against UCL newcomers, Antwerp, led by former Barcelona midfielder Mark van Bommel, per Sportsmole.
September 19 – PSG vs Borussia Dortmund
Paris Saint-Germain remains steadfast in their ongoing pursuit of their maiden Champions League title and they face an enticing matchup against 1997 winners, Borussia Dortmund.
The previous encounter between these two teams was in the last 16 of the 2019/20 season, marked by dramatic and somewhat contentious moments including PSG’s comeback and their playful mockery of Erling Haaland’s meditation celebration.
The Parisians have seen the departure of several stars this summer and have struggled to find their rhythm in Ligue 1 despite Kylian Mbappe’s exceptional form, per Sky Sports. Nevertheless, they aspire to deliver an impressive performance when hosting Dortmund at Parc des Princes.
September 20 – Real Madrid vs Union Berlin
The ‘landlords’ of the Champions League, Real Madrid embark on their journey to secure an unprecedented 15th UCL title, commencing their campaign against tournament newcomers, Union Berlin.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have maintained an unblemished record in the competition at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium since March 2015 and their impressive form during the early stages of the 2023/24 season adds another layer of complexity for the Bundesliga side as they face this formidable challenge early on.
On the other hand, the Berliners, who previously participated in the Europa Conference League and the Europa League over the past two seasons, aspire to capitalise on their elevation to the prestigious UCL stage – aiming to craft another enchanting European journey.
September 20 – Arsenal vs PSV Eindhoven
Arsenal’s last game in Europe’s premier club competition concluded with a 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich during the 2016/17 round of 16. However, expectations for a similar outcome are minimal as they prepare to host Eredivisie leaders, PSV Eindhoven.
The Gunners are regarded as the favourites at the Emirates Stadium, just as they were before securing a 1-0 victory against the same opponent in the previous season’s Europa League clash.
Nonetheless, PSV arrives for this tie in outstanding form, having netted an impressive 13 goals across three victories, including a resounding 5-1 triumph over Rangers in the final qualification round of the current competition.
September 20 – Bayern Munich vs Manchester United
Undoubtedly the standout fixture of matchweek one features an enticing showdown between two European football giants who collectively boast an impressive nine Champions League titles.
Manchester United are currently grappling with a series of challenges but their next enigma for Erik ten Hag to unravel is a visit to the Bundesliga powerhouse, Bayern Munich, who have strengthened their ranks with the addition of Harry Kane.
Following a recent 3-1 loss to Brighton at Old Trafford, the Red Devils might face a similar setback. However, United clings to the cherished memories of their iconic 1999 final encounter, a match dramatically won by the Premier League side.
As they embark on this journey into enemy territory, they hope to rekindle that spirit and turn their fortunes around.