The UEFA Champions League is back. The draw is over and the new contenders are once again aiming for the big prize.
The 2022/23 season will see a brief hiatus due to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar this year, but title contenders like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain will look to go all the way after losing out ahead of European royalty, Real Madrid last season. .
The toughest group of the lot is Group C, where Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan have been paired and Viktoria Plzen, the last team in the group, can only pray that these football heavyweights will be sweet to them. .
On the return side, 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 have set an appointment with Juventus. However, in the same group, an unlikely candidate found a way to come face to face with PSG, Juventus and Benfica. This bid is by a team named Maccabi Haifa who play in the Israeli Premier League.
Barak Bakhar leads this Israeli team that won the league in his country last year. With high morale, the team 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 European competition in 2002.
The team are excited to face Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Sergio Ramos without paying heed to the repercussions that could befall them. However, one midfielder, Omer Atzili, has responded to a special request for the two PSG superstars.
After the group stage draw was completed, Atzili posted on his Instagram, asking Messi and Neymar for their shirts. Even before the game was played, Atzili and his teammate made it clear which jersey they would like to take home.
It is an honor for all of the Israel team players to share the same pitch with the South American duo who are wreaking havoc in Ligue 1 this season. The Brazilian has bagged five goals with six assists while the Argentine is once again at the top of his game with three goals in as many matches played.
Mbappe, who also put his name on the scoresheet with four goals, seems to have been overlooked by those Israeli players whose demand was limited to Neymar and Messi only.
Atzili appears as a fanboy whose dream is about to materialize. For Neymar and Messi, another Champions League title will only sweeten their undying friendship.