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2019/20 Champions League groups set; Van Dijk, Messi among UEFA Awards winners

Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus are among the contenders for the UEFA Champions League trophy. Credit: Adidas

The eight groups for the 2019/20 edition of the UEFA Champions League have been announced following Thursday's draw in Monaco. Teams will face each other home and away over the course of four months with the two group winners advancing to the Round of 16 stage in February.

The 2020 UEFA Champions League Final will take place on May 30 at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern München, Tottenham Hotspur, Olympiacos, Crvena zvezda

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atlético Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moskva

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Internazionale Milano, Slavia Praha

Group G: Zenit, Benfica, Lyon, RB Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, LOSC Lille

UEFA Awards winners

A build up to the draw the announcement of the award winners for the previous season. Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, champions after a win over Tottenham Hotspur in this past June, were among those taking home personal honors.

Men's Player of the Year - Virgil van Dijk
Forward of the Season - Leo Messi
Midfielder of the Season - Frenkie de Jong
Defender of the Season - Virgil van Dijk
Goalkeeper of the Season - Alisson Becker

Sights and sounds

Part of the glamour of the draw is how much of a star-studded affair it becomes, the highlight of this year's edition being the reunion of rivals Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

Of course, both were flown in via a private helicopter.


The "group of death" may be fitting for Group F where Barcelona, Dortmund and Inter Milan all have cases to advance as top of the group. Czech side Slavia Prague is, without question, the weakest link of the group and their staff know their odds to advance are small.

Manchester United Legend Eric Cantona was present to receive the President's Award, though you wouldn't guess it was him if you saw him walking down the street.

The UEFA Champions League group stage begins on September 17 and will be broadcast in the United States through the TNT / B/R Live in English and Univision / TUDN in Spanish.

Courtesy of Houston Dynamo

The Houston Dynamo fell back to second-to-last place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday night at BC Place. Mauro Manotas struck for the second consecutive match but it would not be enough as fellow Colombian Fredy Montero notched a 90th minute winner for the Caps.

Here are five observations from the match:

1) A winnable game

Despite Whitecaps FC coming into this match two weeks removed from their last MLS match, the Dynamo were looking at a possibility of picking up their first three points ever in Vancouver. The Canadians simply haven't looked great and that's a big reason why they are still the last place team in the West.

Houston had plenty of opportunities early on with Tommy McNamara missing a golden chance in just the fourth minute of play. The team ended up out-shooting the Whitecaps 18-6 throughout the entire match but they lacked the quality to punish in the final third.

For a team that has been poor on the road (Dynamo have a combined 5 away wins since 2017), this was a great opportunity to pick up a road win.

2) Hard done by a handball

The definition of a handball changed in an update to the Laws of the Game earlier this year. As a result, referees have interpreted the rule to the letter of the law because the evaluation of a "deliberate" handball has been removed.

In this case, the referee awards the penalty even after going to the video review booth. The Dynamo were on the other side of a VAR decision on Wednesday when a Minnesota goal was annulled after video review.

Ultimately, the Dynamo could've avoided the entire controversy by putting their chances away and putting this match out of reach.

3) Manotas scores again

There's not much more that can be said about Dynamo leading scorer Mauro Manotas. Once again, he was well positioned to jump on an opportunistic chance to score. The improvement to his game can only come as he evolves into a scorer that can create his own chances more consistently. Other than that, he's been one of the Dynamo's top players for the past few years.

4) Late goal defeat

Fredy Montero, one of the better scorers in the history of the league, was on a goal drought since June. He ended that drought with a 90th minute winner, taking advantage of a Jose Bizama who put out his worst performance in a Dynamo jersey.

Late goal defeats are probably up there with anything else you'd describe Dynamo play in this decade. Add another to the list.

5) Arnaud's progression continues to be slow

It was always going to be a though ask for Davy Arnaud to provide a complete 180-degree change and make a charge for the playoffs. In his five games in charge, Arnaud has reinvigorated the locker room with a bit of confidence. He has also taken more of a safety net approach and not rushing to make drastic changes in his lineups and during matches.

Dynamo player of the game: Maynor Figueroa

Figueroa's strike from created the clearest opportunity for the Dynamo. It is that type of initiative that get teams back into this type of match. The Honduran national team captain has injected an impact of leadership and is fearless when he is on the field. Signed in the offseason for an annual salary of $70,250.00, Figueroa has been every bit worth every penny and, undeniably, a steal.

Next match:

Saturday, September 21 vs. Orlando City SC (9:00 p.m. CT, KUBE57)

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