Champions League group stage back with a bang

The UEFA Champions League group stage is back – allow us to run you through all you need to know.


Just 115 days after Real Madrid were crowned champions for the third season running, the UEFA Champions League group stage returns.


Matchday one fixtures (21.00CET unless stated)

Bale on his 2010 hat-trick against Inter
Bale on his 2010 hat-trick against Inter

Tuesday 18 September
Group A: Club Brugge v Dortmund, Monaco v Atlético
Group B: Barcelona v PSV Eindhoven (18:55CET), Inter v Tottenham (18:55CET)
Group C: Liverpool v Paris, Crvena zvezda v Napoli
Group D: Galatasaray v Lokomotiv Moskva, Schalke v Porto

Wednesday 19 September
Group E: Ajax v AEK Athens (18:55CET), Benfica v Bayern München
Group F: Shakhtar v Hoffenheim (18:55CET), Manchester City v Lyon
Group G: Real Madrid v Roma, Viktoria Plzeň v CSKA Moskva
Group H: Young Boys v Manchester United, Valencia v Juventus

Three things to look out for this week

1) Porto keeper Iker Casillas is about to embark on a record 20th UEFA Champions League campaign.

Watch six matchday one stunners
Watch six matchday one stunners

2) Thomas Müller could become just the 35th player to reach 100 UEFA Champions League appearances (group stage to final).

3) Cristiano Ronaldo is set to make his UEFA Champions League debut for Juventus; the last time he featured in the competition in anything other than a Real Madrid shirt was in the 2009 final, his Manchester United side beaten 2-0 by Barcelona in Rome.

How can I follow on will have reporters at every UEFA Champions League game this season, providing regular updates on social media – Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and in our MatchCentres. There will be live text and photo coverage of every fixture, with reaction and highlights to follow.

How can I get involved?

Matchday one memories, featuring Messi and Salah
Matchday one memories, featuring Messi and Salah

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What's new this season?

This is the first season of staggered kick-off times during the UEFA Champions League group stage, with at least two games per night getting under way at 18:55CET. That's not to mention a fancy new brand identity, based on a concept called 'Highlighting moments that make the ultimate stage'.

Oh, and did we mention that Ronaldo won't be wearing a Real Madrid shirt any more?

Any debutants?

Stars of Group C, featuring new boys Crvena zvezda
Stars of Group C, featuring new boys Crvena zvezda

Yes. Young Boys, Hoffenheim and Crvena zvezda are all making their UEFA Champions League group stage bows, taking the total number of clubs to have appeared at this stage of the competition to 140.

What's not new?

Thirty-two teams vying to lift the most prestigious trophy in European club football. The top two in all eight groups progress to the knockout stage, with two-legged round of 16, quarter-final and semi-final ties whittling it down to just two finalists. Talking of which ...

When and where's the final?

Saturday 1 June at 21:00CET, at Atlético's home – the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid. Stick it in your diary.

Last but not least ...

Come approximately 18:50CET on Tuesday, it will be that time again. The champions ...