Champions League: Group D
In the Champions League Quarter Finals last season, domestic rivals Chelsea got one over Liverpool, after an extremely close tie over two legs that ended 5-4 in favor to the Blues. This season, Brendan Rodgers' side will attempt to bring European glory back to Merseyside, and their first three obstacles are Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain, and minnows from Switzerland and Italy respectively, FC Basel and AC Cesena.
Paris Saint-Germain had a disappointing 2018/19 season, finishing at a surprising 7th place. However, they hit back quickly to claim their 7th Ligue 1 crown just a year later, sealing their return to the Champions League. Despite the amount of money pumped into the club and the number of amazing talents in their star-studded squad, the kings of French football have never tasted the sweetness of winning a European Cup, and are usually knocked out in the Quarter Finals by their far superior opponents from England and Spain. Could it change this season? The club's Qatari owners have splashed no less than £140 million on players within the past two years, so that may be a positive sign.
Key Man - Ricardinho
When the Belgian was allowed to leave Chelsea for £30.5 million in January 2018, many thought that the London club had conducted some extremely shrewd business, having only purchased the promising youngster for about £2 million two years prior. However, Jose Mourinho has quickly been left to regret his decision. Ricardinho, real name Ricardo Pereira Junior, has blossomed into one of the best defensive-minded midfielders in European football after swiftly becoming a first-team regular in PSG, and at just 21, still has years ahead of him in his professional career. Arguably his side's most influential player after the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ricardinho possesses the ability to cause trouble for any opposing attackers and is going to be a very tough nut to crack.
Basel stand almost no chance to qualify for the knockout stages, but they should not be ruled out completely. The club have caused some amazing Champions League upsets in their history, and may just miraculously somehow beat Liverpool or Paris Saint-Germain to that second qualification spot. In their recent history, Basel have not managed to go too far in any European competitions, with their most recent being a small Europa League run that ended in the Second Knockout Round. Of course, they are a lot more successful domestically, and have been crowned as Swiss Super League champions for 11 seasons running.
Key Man - Nenad Novovic
At just 18 years of age, Novovic has played in 44 Super League games for Basel, and is acknowledged as one of the club's best players ever produced. Already a full international for Switzerland, the midfielder has showed signs of becoming a potential world beater in the future, but still has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath as players like Paul Pogba. Top European sides such as Real Madrid are already taking notice, and Novovic may just earn himself a big money move if he can drag Basel beyond the group stages.
Cesena were playing in Serie B as recently as 2017, and are in unfamiliar territory this year. Eccentric manager Paolo Di Canio has masterminded the club's amazing race to the top of the Italian football pile, leading them to Serie A promotion during his second year in charge, before finishing at 4th place another three years later, their highest ever finish since the club's founding in 1940. This season will also be Cesena's first time playing in the Champions League, and also their second time playing in Europe after their short UEFA Cup run in 1976. Not much will be expected of the Seahorses, but as proven, they are a club capable of pulling miracles out of nowhere.
Key Man - Alberto Brignoli
The Cesena squad doesn't have many stars that stand out, but if one player has to be picked, it's Brignoli. The goalkeeper was offloaded by Roma just 8 months ago, and proved to be a hit at his new club, conceding just 22 goals in 20 appearances. In Brignoli, Cesena have a very reliable man between the sticks, and if he can bring his league form from last season into the Champions League, qualification from the group may be on the cards.