The UEFA Champions League is back. The draw is complete and the new contenders are eyeing the big prize yet again.
The 2022/23 season will see a brief pause because of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this year but the title challengers like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will look to go all the way after bowing out to European royalty, Real Madrid last season.
The toughest group of the lot is Group C, where Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Inter Milan have been clubbed together and Viktoria Plzen, the last team in the group, can only pray that these football heavyweights go easy on them.
In terms of homecoming, Erling Haaland will face Borussia Dortmund after leaving the club this summer while Robert Lewandowski awaits a duel against his former club, Bayern Munich.
A clash of titans also highlights Group H, where PSG has fixed a date with Juventus. However, in the same group, an unlikely candidate has found his way to come face to face with the likes of PSG, Juventus, and Benfica. This candidature is by a team named Maccabi Haifa that plays in the Israeli Premier League.
Barak Bakhar manages this Israeli team that won the league in their country last year. With high spirits, the team has found a place in the Champions League for the third time in their history. Maccabi can beat their own drum as the club holds the record for the first Israeli team to grace the European competition back in 2002.
The team is overjoyed at the prospect of facing Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, and Sergio Ramos heeding no attention to the repercussions that may befall them. However, one midfielder, Omer Atzili, has fielded a special request for the two PSG superstars.
After the group stage draw was completed, Atzili posted on his Instagram, requesting Messi and Neymar for their shirts. Even before the game is played, Atzili and his teammate have made their preference entirely clear about whose shirt they would like to take back home.
It’s a sheer honour for all the players of the Israeli team to share the same pitch with the South American duo who are wreaking havoc in Ligue 1 this season. The Brazilian has racked up five goals with six assists while the Argentinian is on the top of his game yet again with three goals in as many matches played.
Mbappe, who has also etched his name on the scoresheet with four goals, seems to have been neglected by these Israeli players whose request has been limited to only Neymar and Messi.
Atzili comes across as a fanboy whose dream is about to materialize. For Neymar and Messi, another Champions League title will only sweeten their unbreakable friendship.