Can all four English sides qualify from the Champions League groups?

It’s back. The Champions League draw is not as dramatic as the action on the pitch but deciding which teams will face each other in the coming months is always exciting. 

The fates of Manchester City, Manchester United, and were decided in the Istanbul ceremony and the English sides will have mixed feelings about their respective pairings. 

Pep Guardiola’s side will take on fellow big spenders Paris Saint-Germain in a repeat of last season’s Champions League semi-final, while Liverpool will face and in their group.

The Champions League group stage draw was made on Thursday night in Istanbul

The four English sides were handed a mixed range of teams to compete against in the groups

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Holders Chelsea have been paired with Juventus while Manchester United will face a reunion with Villarreal, who beat them in the Europa League final back in May.

With all the groups decided now, Sportsmail takes a closer look at the English teams’ chances of progressing through to the knockout stages…

  MANCHESTER CITY 

Group A opponents: Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, Club Brugge 

First out of the hat in Istanbul was Manchester City, who have been paired with Lionel Messi and his all-star PSG team that has been assembled this summer. 

Mauricio Pochettino’s men have improved their playing squad massively since losing to City in the last-four back in May, with the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Gini Wijnaldum and of course Messi moving to Paris. 

Manchester City’s two ties with Paris Saint-Germain is the clear standout match-up this year

The move could also reunite Messi with long-term rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who is reportedly in talks with Guardiola’s side over a shock late move in this transfer window from Juventus. 

PSG are, ultimately, one of the favourites to win the entire competition and even though the two teams have been paired in the groups, they could also meet in the latter stages of the tournament, just like they did last year. 

But both sides should not find their groups too challenging in terms of qualifying for the last-16.

In fact, the only real challenge for City is whether they can top this group over the all-star PSG team.

RB Leipzig are a competent side with a lot of flair players such as Emil Forsberg and Dominik Szoboszlai — and they knocked out Manchester United in the groups last season — but City are much stronger than their Bundesliga opponents and should win easily.

PSG have added Lionel Messi (left) to their squad with Neymar (right) also in the attack

RB Leipzig (above) can cause problems but City will be too strong for them at Club Brugge

Meanwhile, Belgian side Club Brugge have never made it out of the Champions League initial phase in their eight appearances at this stage since the tournament was reformed from the European Cup, so City should have no worries about this group. 

Getting one over on PSG early on, however, could be useful should the sides meet again later on in the tournament, or dare we say — the final? 

  LIVERPOOL  

Group B opponents: Atletico Madrid, FC Porto, AC Milan 

The same, however, cannot be said for Liverpool, who have been placed in a very tricky group as they begin their Champions League journey this season.

The Reds will make a return to the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium this season, the venue of their 2019 Champions League final triumph, but the Reds will come up against a tricky opponent in Atletico Madrid, which Jurgen Klopp’s men know all too well. 

Liverpool have been paired against Atletico Madrid who beat them in the 2020 knockouts

Diego Simeone’s (above) side will be compact and dangerous in such big European clashes

Diego Simeone’s Atleti knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League in 2020, with the Spanish side always impressing in major fixtures against high-calibre teams such as Liverpool.

The LaLiga champions are difficult to break down, especially with Jan Oblak in goal, while they have the likes of former Kop hero Luis Suarez, Angel Correa and Joao Felix up front.

The other two teams in this group bring their own challenges — and are of course both former winners of the competition. 

Porto make a habit of always getting out of the group stages.

The Portuguese side have made it to the knockout stages in their last four Champions League campaigns and are capable of causing an upset, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus found last year. 

FC Porto should not be overlooked too, with the Portuguese side knockout stage regulars

AC Milan have also improved their side from last season with signings like Olivier Giroud

But Porto have a horrendous record against English teams, losing to the Reds, Chelsea, Manchester City and even Leicester City in this competition over the past decade. 

AC Milan, meanwhile, were the one team everyone was trying to avoid in pot four, where the lowest-ranked teams in the competition were being drawn out. 

The Rossoneri missed out to rivals Inter in the Serie A title race having led the way for most of the season, but have addressed the spine of the team over the summer with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Fikayo Tomori and goalkeeper Mike Maignan. 

Liverpool are rightly favourites to win this group and should do so, but Klopp’s men should know that these three teams can all punish them if they are not on their game. 

  MANCHESTER UNITED

Group F teams: Villarreal, Atalanta, Young Boys 

Out of all the English teams, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be most pleased looking at their Champions League group stage draw. 

The Red Devils are ultimately clear favourites to make it through to the knockout stages as they are by far and away the strongest team in their group. 

Solskjaer’s men will, however, be wary about their recent record with Villarreal, with the Spanish side beating them in the Europa League final on penalties earlier this year.

Manchester United will be reunited with Villarreal who beat them in May’s Europa League final

The Yellow Submarine have Gerard Moreno up front who scored 30 goals for them last season

Unai Emery may have struggled at Arsenal but he has found his feet again with the Yellow Submarine, earning the club its first ever major trophy last season.

The LaLiga side also have striker Gerard Moreno who is a major threat, after he scored 30 goals in all competitions last term and is backed to have a similar campaign this time around.

Atalanta are another side who, while United are stronger than on paper, can cause issues.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side were the Italian top-flight’s highest goal scorers last season, hitting 90 goals in 38 matches and should not be taken lightly.

Atalanta were one of Europe’s highest-scoring teams last season with 90 goals in Serie A

Liverpool found that out last season, when the Italian side won 2-0 at Anfield to cause extra tension in the Reds’ Champions League group campaign. 

Swiss champions Young Boys, meanwhile, met United before in this competition back in 2018 but failed to land a glove on the Red Devils and failed to grab a goal. 

This group is harder than it looks, with United’s group alongside Istanbul Basaksehir, PSG and RB Leipzig proving too difficult for Solskjaer’s men last year.

But turn up in each of their games and the Red Devils should have no worries. 

  CHELSEA

Group H teams: Juventus, Zenit St Petersburg, Malmo 

Last season’s European champions are another side who should have no worries about qualifying for the knockout stages, or even winning the group — even though Italian giants Juventus are competing alongside them in Group H.

Juventus will be Chelsea’s biggest threat even if they sell Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester City

Thomas Tuchel’s side are hoping for back-to-back Champions League titles for the first time in the club’s history and this group should set them on their way to reaching the final stages of the competition.

Juventus always pose difficult challenges, especially now Massimilano Allegri is back at the helm after leading them to two Champions League finals in his first stint, but the Old Lady potentially losing Cristiano Ronaldo is a major blow to their hopes. 

Should Ronaldo manage to get his move to Manchester City, can the likes of Alvaro Morata, Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey carry the flag in the Portuguese’s place? 

New Chelsea signing Romelu Lukaku (left) has a track history of hurting Italian sides up front

With Romelu Lukaku already settling back into life at Chelsea and holding a track history of hurting Italian sides, not even the experienced of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci can keep him at bay. 

When it comes to the other two teams in the group, Tuchel’s side should really be looking at six points. 

Matches in Scandinavia and Russia could be tricky as the weather gets colder but there should be no worries at all over the west Londoners reaching the last-16.

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