Liverpool will be looking to defend their Champions League title in 2019/20 and to do so they’ll have to come through a strong group campaign first.
Thursday’s group stage draw saw the Reds in Pot 1 as holders, but with a raft of phenomenal clubs scattered throughout Pots 2, 3 and 4 as well.
In the end, Jurgen Klopp‘s side face trips to Italy, Austria and Belgium in Group E, as they play Napoli, RB Salzburg and Genk.
Here we take a look at each in turn, see what to expect from our upcoming rivals and look forward to another memorable European campaign for Liverpool.
Europe in 18/19: You might remember—they were in the group stage with Liverpool a year ago. They exited at that stage, too, thanks in huge part to a massive Alisson Becker block in the last minute of the last group game.
Domestic in 18/19: Another second-place finish in Serie A, as Napoli ended up 11 points off winners Juventus.
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti. Absolute legend, phenomenal tactician, world class eyebrow raise.
Key players: Take your pick. From back to front the best players might be Kalidou Koulibaly, Fabian Ruiz and Lorenzo Insigne but there is quality throughout the side.
New additions Kostas Manolas and Hirving Lozano make them a better XI than last season.
Stadium: The Stadio San Paolo in Naples holds around 60,000 fans. Last season it hosted one of the Reds’ worst performances of the season, as we lost 1-0 to a late goal.
Good to know: This fixture is becoming a regular occurrence—aside from the two group games last season, the Reds and Napoli also played each other in pre-season 2019 and 2018, winning one game apiece. We both also took part at the Audi Cup in summer 2017, but avoided playing each other on that occasion.
Europe in 18/19: Topped their group in the Europa League, beat Club Brugges in the last 32 and then exited against Napoli in the last 16.
Domestic in 18/19: Comfortable winners of the Austrian Bundesliga, earning a 12-point margin at the top after the Championship round.
Manager: Jesse Marsch, an American coach who has effectively earned successive promotions within the RB hierarchy. Initially in MLS with New York Red Bulls, he spent over three years with the club before heading to Europe.
Last season he was assistant coach to Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga, before taking over at Salzburg this summer. He has made a good start, with a perfect five wins from five this season.
Key players: Centre-forward Erling Braut Haland is only 19 but has 10 goals in six games and is already a Norwegian international. He’s the son of former Man City man Alf-Inge, and scored nine goals in one game at the U20 World Cup this summer.
Jerome Onguene is a highly rated young centre-back and Dominik Szoboszlai is another huge talent at just 18.
Stadium: The Red Bull Arena holds 31,000 and, predictably, will be labelled Salzburg Stadium during Champions League matches.
Europe in 18/19: Topped their group in the Europa League, but were hammered 4-1 by Slavia Prague in the Round of 32.
Domestic in 18/19: Won the Belgian Jupiler Pro League by two points last season, ahead of Club Brugge.
Manager: Felice Mazzu took over this summer, replacing title-winning boss Philippe Clement, who took over at rivals Club Brugge. Mazzu was formerly boss at Charleroi, who finished mid-table last season.
Key players: New signing Ianis Hagi made waves over the summer before joining—the son of Romanian legend Gheorghe.
Sander Berge is a 21-year-old Norwegian international midfielder who has been linked with bigger clubs already, while striker Mbwana Samatta has five goals in five games this season and netted more than 30 last term in all competitions.
Stadium: The Luminus Arena holds 23,000 fans, slightly fewer on European match nights.
Good to know: Not a huge history in terms of title wins, but Genk have produced hoardes of top-class players through their academy. Kevin De Bruyne, Yannick Carrasco and Thibaut Courtois are good examples…as is Divock Origi!