It is the most sobering of realities that just 39,595 people made their way through the gates to attend the six Round 3 A-League Men’s fixtures over the course of the weekend.
With the Champions League groups drawn early on Friday morning, there were some surprises, including some massive match-ups.
But which group is the toughest group of them all this year? Well here are my top three groups of death.
Number three: Group H (PSG, Manchester United, RB Leipzig, Istanbul Basaksehir)
Some might say this is a surprise given two of these teams finished third in their leagues. But Leipzig and United did, in the end, have really good seasons. They were just outshone by the winners of their leagues. Add two European champions from France and Turkey and it could be interesting to watch Group H.
They also have some star players, with PSG having Kylian Mbappe and Neymar, Man United having Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba and Leipzig having Peter Gulácsi. But Istanbul don’t really have any (however they do have talented winger Edin Visca). And don’t forget about their role players too.
Even though Leipzig have lost their star striker in Timo Werner, they still could challenge PSG and United in the group stage. But despite a slightly poor start by both PSG and Man United, I see them improving sooner and I still see them going through to the knockout stages, with Leipzig going down to the Europa League.
Number two: Group B (Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, Borussia Monchengladbach)
This may also come as a surprise, but this group is a much harder group than most would think. You’ve got two domestic winners in Real and Shakhtar, a team that finished one point behind Juventus in Serie A (Inter) and a team that continues to improve (Gladbach).
But despite the fact the group games could be entertaining, I see Real and Inter battling it out for the top two spots while Gladbach and Shakhtar will battle for the Europa League spot. But in the Champions League, or in European football in general, you never know what will happen.
Number one: Group C (Porto, Manchester City, Olympiacos, Marseille)
This group is by far the best group of death because you’ve got a domestic winner (Porto), a two-time champion in 2018 and 2017 (City), another domestic winner (Olympiacos) and a team that finished only 12 points behind PSG in Ligue 1 last year (Marseille).
They have some star players too, with Porto boasting Alex Telles, the talented Jesus Corona and Danilo Pereira. City have PFA player of the season Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Ederson as well. While Olympiacos aren’t the best, Marseille have some solid players, including Dimitri Payet, Steve Mandanda and Morgan Sanson.
While City are the obvious candidates to finish in the top two at least, it’s a tough one for who’ll go through with them. Despite them not being the champions out of those two, Marseille are still the better team and they’ll just scrape through, with Porto in the Europa League spot. In the end though, like every other group, we shall see what happens.