Luck smiles at Madrid and Atlético and avoids Barça and Sevilla

Luck smiles at Madrid and Atlético and avoids Barça and Sevilla

The Champions League trophy presided over the draw. / sedat suna / efe

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The Catalans will face Bayern, with Lewandowski returning to Munich, Inter and Viktoria Plzen, in the group of death, while the champion will have an affordable path against Leipzig, Shakhtar and Celtic Glasgow

Jose Manuel Andres

Very uneven fortune between the Spanish teams in the 2022-23 Champions League. The innocent hands of Hamit Altintop and Yaya Touré, former players of Real Madrid and Barça, respectively, brought luck to Madrid and Atlético, who breathe easy, within what is possible in the highest continental competition, with an affordable route to the round of 16 final.

On the other hand, after the draw held at the sumptuous Haliç Congress Center, located on the shores of the Bosphorus Strait that characterizes the city of Istanbul so much, Barcelona and Seville will have to sweat a lot if they intend to reach the knockout stage and not fall to the first of change, as happened last season.

The champion will be framed in group F, with the German Leipzig as the toughest rival. This is a recently minted adversary whom he has never faced but who maintains the block with which he finished fourth in the last Bundesliga, with French striker Christopher Nkunku as a great offensive threat and the presence of Spanish Dani Olmo in his squad.

They will meet Shakhtar for the third consecutive season, although this time the Ukrainian champions will have little to do with the dangerous team of other years. The war in Ukraine has left the orange team without its characteristic Brazilian stars, which will also play the competition in Polish exile, which is why it was the most affordable team in pot 3. Celtic Glasgow, champion of Scotland, will complete the protected group for the exceptional atmosphere of Celtic Park although without sporting arguments to be a truly fearsome opponent for Madrid.

Barça will repeat with Bayern Munich as a rival in their group, so there will be room for revenge with the incentive of Robert Lewandowski's return to Munich dressed in Barça. They will not be the only great Europeans in group C, because the Bavarians and Catalans are accompanied by Inter Milan, a true black beast of pot 3, reinforced by the return of Romelu Lukaku to Giuseppe Meazza and that will cause a train wreck to avoid the early KO. The Czech Viktoria Plzen will enjoy an exceptional poster and will aspire to give some surprise and act as entertainer of the contest.

Atlético will also live a 'déjà vu' with Porto, an opponent in their very tough group last year and against whom they managed a difficult pass to the round of 16 in Do Dragao. The rojiblancos will also face Bayer Leverkusen, with whom they have faced up to eight times since 2010, and Club Brugge, a classic in the competition with little chance of getting out of the group stage.

For its part, Sevilla will face a real bogeyman, Guardiola's Manchester City, reinforced by the presence of Haaland, who already served as Sevilla's executioner in the second round of the 2020-21 edition as a Borussia Dortmund player. Precisely the German runner-up will be the third in discord and a priori the opponent with whom Lopetegui's team has to play the pass, since Copenhagen starts one step below the rest.

Benzema and Alexia, the best

Spanish football took the individual awards from UEFA when the highest body in European football recognized Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas as the best players of the 2021-22 season. The French striker and the Spanish midfielder were the top scorers in the Champions League in the men's and women's categories and while the Frenchman was the leader of a Real Madrid champion, the Catalan commanded Barça, defeated in the final by Olympique de Lyon.

Madrid's heroic Fourteenth was also recognized by Carlo Ancelotti as the best coach. Last year, the Italian became the first coach to win four Champions League titles, as well as to win from the bench the trophies of the five major European leagues -Liga, Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 -, two milestones that amply deserved the UEFA award.

A legendary figure such as Arrigo Sacchi, who received the UEFA President's award from Aleksander Ceferin, was also recognised. The Italian was thus honored for his contribution to football, especially during his time as coach of the mythical Milan that won the European Cup in 1989 and 1990, with the help of players such as Maldini, Baresi, Gullit, Rijkaard or Van Basten .

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