September 19, (THEWILL) – The highly anticipated group stage of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League kicks off this week, bringing excitement for football fans worldwide, especially for supporters of Belgian side Royal Antwerp.
Spanish giants Barcelona host the Belgian club on Tuesday, for the start of their UCL Group H campaign. The Catalans are in scintillating form, coming off a 5-0 thrashing of Real Betis to maintain their place behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid. Despite an opening draw, Barcelona have now secured four straight league wins, with standout performances from new recruits Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo.
As reigning Spanish champions, Barcelona will aim to make amends for recent European struggles. They suffered a group stage exit last season, having reached the quarter-finals in 2019/2020 before losing to eventual winners Bayern Munich. With Shakhtar Donetsk and Porto joining them in Group H, the Blaugrana are strong favourites to progress and will look for a positive start at Camp Nou.
In contrast, opponents, Royal Antwerp, are making their historic debut in the Champions League group stage. They clinched a fifth Belgian league title last term before coming through the qualifying rounds to seal their place. Despite a recent 3-0 league win, Antwerp are fifth domestically, highlighting this European adventure as a major achievement. Kick-off at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys is 8pm local time.
For Barcelona, it is the start of their quest to regain European glory. Antwerp, meanwhile, embark on their maiden UCL voyage, hoping to spring an upset against the Spanish heavyweights.