Between the start of Liverpool's title defense to the beginning of a thirst-filled quest for the title for perennial also-rans, it promises to be a thrilling road to the 2020 final in Istanbul.

By 90Min
September 16, 2019

The 2019-20 UEFA Champions League group stage begins with matchday one this week, with all 32 teams in action around the continent across Tuesday and Wednesday. Between the start of Liverpool's title defense to the beginning of a thirst-filled quest for the title for perennial also-rans, it promises to be a thrilling road to the 2020 final in Istanbul, which precedes a European Championship summer.

Here’s a look at five of the must-watch games taking place this week, which kicks off the festivities. 


Napoli vs. Liverpool

Tuesday at Stadio San Paolo

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Liverpool begin the defense of its Champions League title by facing a team it had to beat at home on matchday six just to get out of the group stage last season.

The Reds may have gone on to lift the trophy in May, but they were beaten when they traveled to Stadio San Paolo in early October. Liverpool, which would go on to lose all three group stage away games, failed to score and conceded a late Napoli winner to Lorenzo Insigne.

With Genk and Red Bull Salzburg completing Group E, this trip to Napoli is likely to be Liverpool’s most challenging game and toughest test in this phase of the competition. That it won't have injured goalkeeper Alisson in net is another element to watch.


Borussia Dortmund vs. Barcelona

Tuesday at Westfalenstadion 

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Already a huge game as one of Europe’s most exciting young teams takes on an established giant, the potential return of Lionel Messi makes Barcelona’s visit to Borussia Dortmund even more enticing, as the superstar is in the squad after missing the first four games of the season.

Dortmund has plenty to prove in Europe this season as it was eliminated from the group stage last year, while its overall reputation does not exactly sync with a team that has won just two Champions League knockout ties since playing in the 2013 final.

Both will want to get off to a strong start in a Group F that also features a resurgent Inter Milan.


Chelsea vs. Valencia

Tuesday at Stamford Bridge

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Group H could hardly be more open, and that is why it is vital for Chelsea to get an early win under their belt when Valencia visits Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea was fired to Premier League victory over the weekend by homegrown youngsters Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, all of whom will be taking a step into the unknown for what will be their respective Champions League debuts.

Chelsea has the second leakiest defense in the Premier League this season, though, after conceding 11 goals in five games, and will therefore be vulnerable against a technical La Liga side, even one that has started the 2019-20 domestic season poorly and undergone a surprise manager change with the ousting of Marcelino.


Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid

Wednesday at Parc des Princes

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The team that has been craving Champions League glory for years without success against the team that has won it more times than other club history, Paris Saint-Germain will host Real Madrid in a heavyweight clash at the Parc des Princes in Group A on Wednesday.

After brushing off an early season blip, PSG is back in form in its domestic league, which is more than can be said for Real, which has only won two of its opening four domestic games and conceded six times.

A lot of focus will be on Neymar in Paris this week–even with him banned for the first three matches of the competition after a social media rant on referees following last season's ouster vs. Manchester United. The Brazilian superstar didn’t get his dream return to Barcelona during the summer and was heckled and booed by his own club’s fans when he made his first appearance of the season over the weekend - despite scoring an incredible bicycle kick that won the match in stoppage time

The match will be marred by other absences, too, with PSG short Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, as they both recover from injuries, while Marcelo is among those that have been ruled out for Real Madrid. For PSG, it could be new loan signing Mauro Icardi's time to shine.


Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus

Wednesday at Wanda Metropolitano

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Atletico Madrid and Juventus meet in matchday one of Group D after playing out an epic two-legged knockout tie in the Champions League last season. On that occasion it took a Cristiano Ronaldo hat trick to overturn the tie for Juventus after a 2-0 first leg deficit.

Atletico has undergone a mini transformation since then, shedding Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin and bringing in younger talents like Joao Felix and Marcos Llorente.

These great clubs are two of European football’s biggest underachievers at a continental level. They have played in 12 European Cup/Champions League finals between them over the years, but have lost 10 of those – including four in a row between 2014 and 2017.

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