Champions League Draw 2019-20: Winners and Losers After Group Stage Fixtures Set

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIAugust 29, 2019

MONACO, MONACO - AUGUST 29: The UEFA Champions League trophy is seen prior to the UEFA Champions League Draw, part of the UEFA European Club Football Season Kick-Off 2019/2020 at Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum on August 29, 2019 in Monaco, Monaco. (Photo by Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The draw for the group stages of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League took place on Thursday in Monaco as Europe's top clubs discovered who they will face when the tournament gets underway in September.

Holders Liverpool were handed a favourable draw and will face Napoli, Salzburg and Genk in Group F, while runners-up Tottenham Hotspur take on Bayern Munich, Olympiacos and Red Star Belgrade. 

The toughest draw looks to be in Group F where La Liga champions Barcelona will come up against Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Slavia Prague.

Here is a look at all of the groups followed by the winners and losers of Thursday's draw.

#UCLdraw @ChampionsLeague

The official result of the 2019/20 #UCLdraw! 😍 3⃣ toughest groups are __ __ & __ 🤔 https://t.co/c7Xdro1vhn

Winner: Manchester City

Premier League champions Manchester City will go in search of a first-ever Champions League triumph and will be heavy favourites to top Group C.

Pep Guardiola's side's toughest fixture in the group is likely to come against Shakhtar Donetsk. However, the Citizens will be confident of victory after beating the Ukrainian side 6-0 at home and 3-0 away in 2018-19.

The Athletic's Sam Lee was impressed with City's performance in Donetsk:

Sam Lee @SamLee

City's best performance (in terms of flowing football, not necessarily factoring opposition quality) was against Shakhtar away last season, imo

Manchester City also take on Dinamo Zagreb for the first time in their history:

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

1 - Man City will face Dinamo Zagreb for the first time in their history; City have also never faced Croatian opponents in European competition. Adventure.

The final team in the group is Serie A surprise package Atalanta. The club are in Europe's elite competition for the first time in their history after finishing third in Italy's top flight on a dramatic final day of action.

Manchester City are the strongest team in the group and will be expected to finish first. A comfortable group stage will be welcomed by the Citizens before the tournament hots up in the knockout stages.


Loser: Valverde's Job Security

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde looked set to lose his job last summer after overseeing another traumatic defeat from the Champions League.

The Catalan giants were dumped out by Liverpool in the semi-finals after throwing away a three-goal lead for the second season in a row:

B/R Football @brfootball

2018: Barcelona blow a 4-1 lead to Roma 2019: Barcelona blow a 3-0 lead to Liverpool ☠️ https://t.co/Y6Q3VWXtSy

Valverde may need to win the tournament this time around if he is to keep his job, and the club have backed their manager in the transfer market by bringing in Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong.

Yet Barcelona will have their work cut out reaching the knockout stages. Bundesliga runners-up Borussia Dortmund will provide a stern test and will see Barca come up against former striker Paco Alcacer:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Paco Alcacer has been directly involved in 6 goals in his last four games for Bourssia Dortmund in all competitions. ⚽️ vs. Bayern Munich ⚽️ vs. Uerdingen ⚽️⚽️🅰️ vs. Augsburg ⚽️ vs. FC Köln There's just no stopping him. https://t.co/3NPRKA40uv

The draw also sees Barcelona take on Inter Milan for the second season in a row. The Spanish champions beat the Nerazzurri 2-0 at the Camp Nou in 2018-19 but were held 1-1 at the San Siro.

Inter have since replaced manager Luciano Spalletti with Antonio Conte and brought in several new signings including Romelu Lukaku. Former Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez is also expected to arrive from Manchester United, per Simon Stone at BBC Sport.


Winner: Liverpool

Holders Liverpool go in search of a seventh European Cup and have little to fear in Group E against Napoli, Salzburg and Genk.

Napoli did beat the Reds 1-0 at the Stadio San Paolo last season, thanks to a 90th-minute goal from Lorenzo Insigne, but Jurgen Klopp's side gained revenge in the return fixture at Anfield.

Liverpool's trip to Salzburg will see two of their players facing a former club, as noted by reporter James Pearce:

James Pearce @JamesPearceLFC

Salzburg also in Group E - Mane and Keita going back to face their old club. #LFC

Much will be expected of Liverpool as the defending champions, and they should have far too much quality and European experience for Salzburg and Genk.

Evening Standard correspondent David Lynch offered his view:

David Lynch @LynchStandard

Very good draw for #LFC, that. A winnable group and no massive midweek trips to contend with.

If Liverpool wrap their group up early it would also allow them to return their focus on the Premier League. The Reds were pipped to the title by a single point last season and can't afford any distractions.


Loser: Atletico's Defence

Atletico Madrid's defence will come up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus for a second straight season and can be forgiven for still having nightmares about the Portugal international.

Diego Simeone's side looked destined for the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season after a 2-0 first-leg win at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

However, Ronaldo proved he is the man for the big occasion in Europe once again in the return leg, bagging a hat-trick to send Juventus through 3-2:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

2-0 down to Wolfsburg in 2016. 2-0 down to Atleti in 2019. Champions League hat-trick hero @Cristiano 🔥 (via @brfootball) https://t.co/QfXhsLjTnu

Squawka Football noted how it was not Ronaldo's first hat-trick against Atletico:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Cristiano Ronaldo's last two hat-tricks in the #UCL: • May 2017 vs. Atlético Madrid • Mar 2019 vs. Atlético Madrid #UCLDraw 👀 https://t.co/418J621why

Ronaldo seems to thrive against Atletico Madrid and it will be little surprise to see his name on the scoresheet again. 

Juventus and Atletico are the strongest teams in Group D, and the two matches between the clubs could go a long way to deciding which team finishes first.