By Baily Shorter
The Champions League groups are settled, and everyone is providing their early shouts for which team will take home Europe’s most prestigious football tournament.
Beyond the glittering names and football powerhouses, exists a thrilling narrative for the underdogs of the Champions League.
Leicester City had a remarkable run in 2016/17, Pochettino took Spurs all the way to the final in 2018/19, Liverpool proved anything can happen in Istanbul and Ajax’s ‘Total Football’ triumph re-affirmed the power of attacking football in 1994/95.
That’s not forgetting the 2003/04 campaign, where AS Monaco knocked out Real Madrid and Chelsea to reach the final, only to be beaten by FC Porto – led by Jose Mourinho – in a final of two great underdogs.
Underdogs have a slim – but possible – chance of etching their name on the coveted Champions League trophy, so what outsiders could set the UCL alight in this campaign?
Placed in Group G with holders Manchester City, Young Boys and Crvena Zvezda (also known as Red Star Belgrade) RB Leipzig should easily qualify in second – and you shouldn’t count them out on going far in this year’s competition.
Recently comfortably beating German giants Bayern Munich 3-0 in the German Super Cup, Dani Olmo provided a hat-trick on the night. Leipzig may have lost main men Nkunku, Szoboszlai and Gvardiol but they have made signings that will keep your eyes peeled.
The signings of Xavi Simons and Fabio Carvalho on loan bring a new load of youth and desire to impress this season with Xavi Simons already opening his account with the Red Bulls.
Lois Openda also joins the German side after an impressive campaign with Lens last year helping the French side to the second spot in Ligue 1, one point off PSG.
RB Leipzig have also secured signings Sesko and Seiwald from partner club RB Salzburg who expressed their ability in the Austrian league last season.
RB Leipzig always provides exciting high-scoring matches and will not be a pushover when the knockout stage comes around. After 4 competitive games this season, they have scored 13 goals. They certainly will be one to watch this campaign.
The Turkish champions are a team you will definitely want to keep an eye on. The 2022-23 season ended in a title triumph and after qualifying rounds win against Olimpija and Molde, Galatasaray have been drawn into Group A.
Galatasaray will face trips to Bayern Munich, Man United and Copenhagen this term. With the obvious teams Bayern Munich and Manchester United fighting for top spot many believe Galatasaray can cause a major upset.
The Turkish side is packed with talent after good business for the last two summers, most recently adding Spurs duo Tanguy Ndombele and Davinson Sanchez to the mix.
Mauro Icardi led the line and scored 22 goals in the league last season. The Argentinian has already scored 5 goals this campaign and will look to provide more in this season's Champions League.
Galatasaray also have Ziyech, Mertens, Torreira, Sergio Oliveira, Tete, Demirbay, Angelino and Wilfred Zaha on their books. This is a spread of European talent, and they will look to upset the giants of the Champions League.
The rise of Union Berlin is a real road to glory story, and they will be looking to continue their story this Champions League campaign.
Only joining the Bundesliga in 2019 they have slowly increased season by season up the table. Finishing 4th last season guaranteed them their first-ever season with Champions League football.
Union Berlin will play in Group C against Italian Champions Napoli, 14-time Champion League winners Real Madrid and Portuguese side Braga. Union Berlin isn’t a squad with star-studded names, but they will be looking to upset this group and write their script in European football.
Union Berlin secured the veteran Bonucci on deadline day to provide experience within the squad and the signing of Gosens is proving to be a good signing as the German has already registered three goals from wingback in four games.
Kevin Behrens has got four goals in as many games this season will be one to watch when the group stages arrive, and eyes will be on him to see if he can he spearhead Union Berlin into the knockouts and beyond.