The Champions League 2023/24 season is finally upon us, and football fans all over the world can rejoice, as the world’s best club competition is back with a bang. So, let’s take a look at the best clashes from matchday one and serve up some tasty predictions. 

AC Milan – Newcastle, Tuesday, 18:30 CET, San Siro, Milan 

There really was only one place to start, and that was Group F – the so-called “Group of Death.” Sandro Tonali returns to the San Siro in Newcastle’s first CL match in over two decades after leaving Milan in the summer. This is a tough match to call, as this could easily be a very balanced game, although Milan’s tough loss in the Derby to Inter 5-1 over the weekend could have left the Rossoneri with some scars, even though they convincingly won their first three domestic matches. Newcastle, on the other hand, narrowly beat Brentford via penalty on Saturday, but their performances continue to be less than impressive in the league so far. We give AC Milan an ever-so slight edge in this one, simply for the fact that they will play in front of a packed San Siro and for Newcastle’s lack of European experience. However, a draw would also be very unsurprising, and would probably be a result that both sets of fans would ultimately be happy with. 

What to look out for: Newcastle come into this one without midfield talisman Joelinton, who will be replaced by Longstaff. If reports are true, AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli will bench new signing Tijjani Reijnders in favor of the more defensive-minded Tommaso Pobega. Pulisic and Chukwueze are also competing for a spot in attack. 

AC Milan to Win – 2.71 

Draw – 3.40 

Newcastle to Win – 2.66 

PSG – Borussia Dortmund, Tuesday, 21:00 CET, Parc des Princes, Paris 

The second clash in Group F sees French champions PSG take on last year’s Bundesliga runner up Dortmund. The two sides have had underwhelming starts to their domestic campaigns – similarly to Newcastle and, to a certain extent, Milan. PSG have only taken home 8 points in the first 5 matches, and lost at home over the weekend to Nice in a thrilling encounter which saw Mbappe score twice. However, PSG look very shaky at the back, as Skriniar, for example, has not yet settled in at all, and are look quite porous in the middle of the field, where many changes occurred this summer. Offensively however, they look quite in form, as only Monaco have scored more in Ligue 1 so far this campaign. The exact same discussion can be had for Dortmund, who have conceded 5 times in their last 3 domestic games, but have also scored 7 in the process. Brandt and Malen look to be their most threatening players so far this campaign. PSG have never crashed out of the Champions League in the Group stage in the past 10 years, so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this occasion, but we also predict that both teams will score and have plenty of chances in this one. 

What to look our for: Asensio, Nuno Mendes and Kimpembe are still out for PSG, meaning their French striker trio (Dembele, Kolo Muani and Mbappe) will most likely start the game: watch out for Mbappe’s pairing with Dortmund’s Marius Wolf on the left side. Keep a close eye on Male, who already has 3 goals in the Bundesliga. 

PSG to Win – 1.77 

Draw – 4.33 

Dortmund to Win – 4.00 

Lazio – Atletico Madrid, Tuesday, 21:00 CET, Stadio Olimpico, Rome 

Perhaps the underrated clash of this matchday, Lazio and Atletico will be looking to bounce back after very disappointing European campaigns last season. Both sides come into this match following pretty intense defeats over the weekend, when Lazio lost 3-1 away to Juventus – an understandable result given the Bianconeri’s very good start to the season, while Atletico were thoroughly beaten 3-0 away to a Valencia side that barely avoided relegation last year. Atletico have managed 7 points in 4 games so far, with their stats inflated by their 7-0 win over Rayo before the international break, while Lazio have lost 3 of their first 4 games in Serie A, but have also defeated Napoli away 2-1, spelling a pretty inconsistent period for Sarri’s side. Both Lazio and Atletico are capable of putting on a spectacular performance, but the real question is which one will turn up, if any of the two? Lazio come in as slight underdogs in this one, but we are predicting a draw, as Atletico are missing several key starters, and the Roman side will be keen on putting on a performance worthy of their fans at the Olimpico. 

What to look out for: Atletico will miss Soyuncu, Koke, Depay, Reinildo, Lemar and De Paul in this one, most of which would slot right in as starters for the Colchoneros, meaning they will most likely play with a makeshift midfield composed of Galan, Barrios and Llorente. Lazio, on the other hand, have a full squad to call upon.  

Lazio to Win – 2.90 

Draw – 3.25 

Atletico Madrid to Win – 2.57 

Bayern Munich – Manchester United, Wednesday, 21:00 CET, Allianz Arena, Munich 

The top clash of the first matchday comes Wednesday evening, as German champions Bayern welcome the Red Devils to Bavaria. While this is – on paper – undoubtedly the biggest clash so far, it is also perhaps the easiest to call among those discussed so far. Bayern’s addition of Harry Kane over the summer makes them one of the 2-3 top contenders to win the competition this year, whereas United have had a turbulent couple of months, both on and off the field. Bayern were held at home to a draw against Leverkusen on Friday – who look to be one of their main challengers for the Bundesliga this season – after the Bavarians conceded a late penalty. They have, however, won pretty convincingly in their first three encounters, where they scored 9 goals, and only conceded 2. United, on the other hand, come into this match low on morale after losing 3-1 at home to Brighton this weekend – Ten Hag’s first home defeat in the Premier League since he took over. United sit 13th in the table currently, having lost 3 of their first 5 games, and conceding a whopping 10 goals in the process. It is quite easy to see who is favored by essentially all the bookies in this clash, and we certainly agree with them that Bayern should win this encounter relatively smoothly. 

What to look out for: Mount, Varane, Shaw, Amrabat and Malacia are all out for Manchester United, who will also miss Antony and Sancho due to off-the-field issues, meaning the Red Devils will play with a makeshift defense and midfield with Lindelof, McTominay and Reguilon slotting in. Fun Fact: Bayern Munich have not lost a group stage game in the Champions League for over 5 years. 

Bayern Munich to Win – 1.53 

Draw – 4.75 

Manchester United to Win – 5.75