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Hello! Cue the Champions League anthem, because the group stage is finally upon us. I’m Pardeep Cattry, and here’s a primer on the competition as play begins tomorrow.
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📺 Footy fix
All times U.S./Eastern
Tuesday, Sept. 19
🇪🇺 Champions League: AC Milan vs. Newcastle United, 12:45 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🌍 AFC Champions League: Persepolis vs. Al-Nassr, 2 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🇪🇺 Champions League: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Borussia Dortmund, 3 p.m. ➡️ Paramount+
🌑Make sure to check out theacross Paramount+, CBSSN and CBS Sports Golazo Network.
📺 What’s on CBS Sports Golazo Network
☀️ Morning Footy (Weekdays 7-9 a.m.): Hosts Susannah Collins, Charlie Davies, Nico Cantor and Alexis Guerreros help fans get their day started on the network’s flagship morning show with highlights, interviews and the biggest soccer storylines. Morning Footy is also available in podcast form, so you’ll never have to miss an episode.
📦 Box 2 Box (Weekday afternoons): The news-driven show quickly recaps all the latest headlines from around the world with panelists previewing the top matchups of the day. Catch Box 2 Box on CBS Sports Golazo Network on the CBS Sports app, PlutoTV and Paramount+.
3️⃣ Attacking Third (Monday and Friday, 4-5 p.m.): The leading women’s soccer podcast and social brand is now a live studio show. Watch Monday and Friday this week at 4 p.m. ET as our analysts break down the best highlights and analysis and share insider information for all things women’s soccer.
👟 Kickin’ It (new unfiltered show debuts Wednesday, hosted by Kate Abdo, Clint Dempsey, Mo Edu and Charlie Davies as they chat candidly with the biggest names from the Beautiful Game and share their stories from on and off the pitch.): CBS Sports Golazo Network’s
🥅 Scoreline (Debuting Thursday): Scoreline is the newest place for fans to catch up on all the biggest news and results impacting global football, match highlights from the top soccer competitions and all the can’t-miss goals from the day’s action, starting Thursday and airing seven days a week.
📺 How to watch: CBS Sports Golazo Network is a free 24/7 channel exclusively dedicated to offering unparalleled coverage of all the top soccer competitions worldwide. You can stream for free on the CBS Sports app, Pluto TV and Paramount+. For a limited time, you can get 50% off an annual subscription from Paramount+ (that’s $2.50/month for the Essential Plan, or $5/month for the Paramount+ with Showtime plan). Don’t miss a minute of the action — sale ends on Sept. 20.
⚽ The Forward Line
🏆 The Championnnnnnns returns with a bang
This season’s group stage will begin with a bang as AC Milan take on Newcastle in the first matchup in the group of death, which also features Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund. Though the French champions are expected to clinch top spot in the group, Jonathan Johnson writes that every match in Group F comes with its own challenges in our group-by-group preview.
- Johnson: “The French champions should win the group based on their squad which has undergone a major overhaul and looks far more balanced overall, but the Italian side and the Premier League outfit are tricky opponents. Saudi-backed Newcastle, in particular, is a narrative-rich game for the Qatari-owned club which ups the stakes significantly ahead of those two games. Dortmund, however, are not in the best of form so far this season and could really struggle in what looks to be a very difficult group for them.”
Milan might be the favorites to snag second place, but a win over Newcastle is likely crucial to ensure passageway to the round of 16. The team will need to rebound quickly from their 5-1 loss to Inter Milan over the weekend, which saw American Christian Pulsiic slow his roll after a strong start to the season. Charlie Davies broke down the less-than-ideal showing on Morning Footy after Inter successfully “neutralized” him.
- Davies: ”It wasn’t a good performance. He was subbed off in the 56th minute and that was due DiMarco and Bastoni, how they were just able to neutralize Christian, not give him space, not give him time, not allow him to get into those 1v1 situations, force him inside where they had more numbers, more help and he just found it really difficult to get on the ball and to take on players, to connect passes. They were super physical with him and because of that, he just never got into a rhythm.”
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🔗 Midfield Link Play
🚨 Ten Hag in the hot seat ahead of Bayern-Man U
Another hotly anticipated fixture on matchday one is Bayern Munich’s faceoff with Manchester United, who are in a notable slump after an imperfect start to the Premier League season. The team is in the bottom half of the table with only two wins out of five, and Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Brighton and Hove Albion means manager Erik ten Hag is under pressure to perform in his first Champions League match with the team. Nico Cantor noted on Morning Footy that there are a handful of factors that add to the tension at Old Trafford, including the optimism United had after ten Hag’s impressive first season in charge.
- Cantor: “This is the most pressure he’s felt ever since he’s been at Manchester United, easily. He got a lot of things right from the get go. He made a lot of important decisions, but now when he’s been given a good transfer window, he’s got the people he really wanted. There’s not only the things off the field with other players, with Antony taking a leave but also the way he’s treated the Jadon Sancho situation … [He’s] too blunt for Manchester United and I think there is a lack of understanding culturally the way that he says things and the way that they’re taken.”
Up against a Bayern team that’s unbeaten to start the Bundesliga season and refreshed with the addition of Harry Kane, who has four goals in four league games, ten Hag and company are definitely the underdogs at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Kane spoke to CBS Sports yesterday about his and the team’s aspirations this season, and their eyes are very much on the prize.
- Kane: ”Whether it’s scoring more goals or getting more assists, defensively being better. Of course I want to score as many goals as I can and get as many assists as I can and ultimately I want to win as many team trophies as I can. … We have to start well. You always want to start your group well and get off to a good start and that sets up the rest of the competition.”
🔗 Top Stories
👀 Here’s a list of five players to watch during this season’s Champions League from James Benge, which includes Pulisic, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, and Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka.
🔙 It was a mixed weekend for the sides competing in the Champions League, with Manchester City excelling thanks to Jeremy Doku and PSG falling to Nice, though there’s no reason to hit the panic button yet in Paris.
🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Results also varied for a pair of English teams who won’t compete in Europe this season. Tottenham picked up another win and are basking in the glow of Ange Postecoglou’s sense of optimism, while Chelsea’s rough start to life under Mauricio Pochettino took another hit with a 0-0 draw at Bournemouth.
⚖️ Juventus are not preparing for the Champions League either, but they are preparing for court. Cristiano Ronaldo will reportedly sue his ex-club for $20 million over unpaid wages.
🇪🇸 39 players reaffirmed their refusal to play for Spain’s women’s national team late last week, despite the resignation of Luis Rubiales as federation president. Today .
💰 Attacking Third recapped a notable Barclays WSL transfer window, including Manchester United’s last-gasp move for Phallon Tullis-Joyce from the OL Reign.
💰 The Back Line
💵 Best bets
- UEFA Champions League: AC Milan vs. Newcastle United, Tuesday, 12:45 p.m.
💰 THE PICK: Under 2.5 goals scored (+105) — One of the first matches of the Champions League group stage could be one of the most competitive matchups of matchday one, with Milan boasting the slight edge over Newcastle as the oddsmakers’ favorites to win. The scoreline could be a narrow one as a result, and will no doubt be decisive in the group of death.
UEFA Champions League: tournament winner
💰 THE PICK: Bayern Munich to win the Champions League (+550) — The odds may be in Manchester City’s favor to lift the Champions League for a second year running, but they are not the only superculb with a chance. Bayern have the second-highest odds to take home the trophy next spring, and should not be counted out yet.