The 62nd season of Europe's premier club football tournament, Champions League, organised by UEFA will kick start its new campaign on 13th September 2016 and will continue to enkindle the football fans around the globe for next nine months before it wraps up with the coveted final on 3rd June 2017.
Group Stage Preview:
The holders Real Madrid will begin with the tie against Ronaldo’s boyhood club Sporting Clube de Portugal where he spent six years (1997–2003) before leaving for Manchester United. However, the biggest match of the first match-round would be the clash between PSG and Arsenal at Parc des Princes on September 13.
‘Don’t Miss’ Group Stage Matches:
PSG vs Arsenal
1st Leg : 13th September 2016 | Parc des Princes
2nd Leg: 23rd November 2016 | Emirates Stadium
Barcelona vs Manchester City
1st Leg : 19th October 2016 | Camp Nou
2nd Leg: 1st November 2016 | Etihad Stadium
Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid
1st Leg : 28th September 2016 | Vicente Calderón Stadium
2nd Leg: 6th December 2016 | Allianz Arena
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund
1st Leg : 27th September 2016 | Westfalenstadion
2nd Leg: 7th December 2016 | Santiago Bernabéu Stadium
Leicester City vs Porto
1st Leg : 27th September 2016 | King Power Stadium
2nd Leg: 7th December 2016 | Estádio do Dragão
Juventus vs Sevilla
1st Leg : 14th September 2016 | Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium
2nd Leg: 22nd November 2016 | Juventus Stadium
The Final Venue:
The 2017 Champions League final will be held at Cardiff's Principality Stadium, Wales. It will be the biggest sporting event to have ever staged in Wales with its government hoping that the world's most watched annual sporting event will push Wales further into world football's corridors of power after the historic Euro 2016 campaign.
However, the 74,500-seat Principality Stadium will be referred as "The National Stadium of Wales” because of UEFA’s reluctance to play the final in a venue named after a sponsor. Bayern Munich’s Allianz Arena, in a similar fashion, was rebranded as the ‘Football Arena München' ahead the 2012 Champions League final.
The Competition Calendar (from Round 16) :
14–15/02/17 and 21–22/02/17: Round of 16, first leg
07–08/03/17 and 14–15/03/17: Round of 16, second leg
11–12/04/17: Quarter-finals, first leg
18–19/04/17: Quarter-finals, second leg
02–03/05/17: Semi-finals, first leg
09–10/05/17: Semi-finals, second leg
03/06/17: Final (National Stadium of Wales, Cardiff
‘Big Club’ absentees:
A few years ago, it would have been considered ludicrous even to think of a Champions League without Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. Yet, it has become a reality and for the first time since the 1995-96 campaign, when Blackburn Rovers were the Premier League’s sole representative in the Champions League, English football will have no previous European Champions representing them in the competition.
Other notable absentees include Ajax and Roma who were kicked out the playoff rounds earlier this month, and the once Italian giants Inter Milan—all three now plying their trade in the Europa League.
Big Names left out the UCL squad:
Yaya Toure, who featured in just one of City's first five games this season and not included in the 18-man matchday squad for the other four, was left out the Champions League squad as well by Pep Guardiola.
Arsenal captain Per Mertesacker was not included in the 25-man squad for competition as the defender is out until at least December with a knee injury which will essentially ensure him missing out the entire group stages.
The long-serving Juventus right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner, whose first team minutes was restricted with the arrival of Dani Alves from Barcelona, wasn't included in Allegri’s 23-man squad for Champions League.
Betting Odds (the favourites):
Barcelona 3/1, Bayern Munich 4/1, Real Madrid 5/1, Juventus 9/1, Manchester City 12/1, Atletico Madrid 14/1, PSG 14/1