UEFA Champions League action kicks off with group stage matches
Baku, September 19, AZERTAC
Following a three-month absence, the UEFA Champions League campaign will kick off on Tuesday with AC Milan facing Newcastle United and Young Boys taking on Leipzig on the season’s opening day, according to Anadolu Agency.
Manchester City, the 2023 UEFA Champions League (UCL) winners, made history last season by becoming the champions for the first time after defeating Inter Milan in the final at Istanbul's Ataturk Olympic Stadium.
The reigning champions became the sixth English side to clinch the trophy after they lifted the UCL 2022-23 title.
They will kick off their campaign at home against Crvena Zvezda on Tuesday as Pep Guardiola’s side were drawn in a favorable group alongside the Serbian club and RB Leipzig and Young Boys.
Over the years, there have been 23 different Champions League winners.
Real Madrid hold the record for the most victories, having won the competition 14 times, including the inaugural edition. Their latest title win was in 2022, when they faced off against Liverpool in the final.
AC Milan, meanwhile, are the most successful Italian club in the Champions League, with seven titles. Bayern Munich and Liverpool have bagged the annual showpiece six times each.
They are followed by Barcelona, with five to their name, and Ajax with four.
Cristiano Ronaldo holds the record for the most goals in a single UCL season, having scored 17 across 11 matches in the 2013-14 campaign. He beat the previous record of 14 goals set by Lionel Messi in the 2011-12 season.
The 38-year-old Portuguese veteran forward came close to eclipsing his own record twice, in the 2015-16 and in 2017-18 campaigns as he scored 16 goals in 2016 and 15 goals in 2018.
The Al-Nassr superstar is also the all-time leading scorer in the UCL with 140 goals in 183 appearances.
Messi is the second-highest scorer in UCL history with 129 goals and also holds the record of scoring the most goals for a single club in UCL history, with 120 of his 129 goals coming at Barcelona.
Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski is third with 91 goals and he scored 69 goals when he was a Bayern Munich player after he arrived from Borussia Dortmund.
Former Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema is fourth with 90 goals.
Defending Turkish champions Galatasaray entered the Champions League season from the second qualifying round.
The Istanbul club respectively eliminated Zalgiris, Olimpija Ljubljana and Molde to qualify for the group stage of Europe's most prestigious football tournament.
Galatasaray will be competing against Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Copenhagen in Group A.
On Wednesday, the Lions will host Copenhagen in their home ground, Ali Sami Yen Sports Complex, in the group opener.
A total of 32 teams in eight different groups will compete to lift the Sterling silver trophy at the end of the 2023-2024 campaign.
The first clashes of the group stages will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday as teams aim to secure their spots in the round of 16.
The 2023-24 final will take place in London at Wembley Stadium on June 1, 2024.
Week 1 Fixture are as follows:
AC Milan - Newcastle United (1645 GMT)
Young Boys - Leipzig (1645 GMT)
Feyenoord - Celtic (1900 GMT)
Lazio - Atletico Madrid (1900 GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain - Borussia Dortmund (1900 GMT)
Manchester City - FK Crvena Zvezda (1900 GMT)
Barcelona - Royal Antwerp (1900 GMT)
Shakhtar Donetsk - Porto (1900 GMT)
Galatasaray - Copenhagen (1645 GMT)
Real Madrid - Union Berlin (1645 GMT)
Bayern Munich - Manchester United (1900 GMT)
Sevilla - Lens (1900 GMT)
Arsenal - PSV Eindhoven (1900 GMT)
Braga - Napoli (1900 GMT)
Real Sociedad - Inter Milan (1900 GMT)
Benfica - Salzburg (1900 GMT)