For the first time since the inception of the modern Champions League in 1992, one country will be represented by five teams in Europe’s elite club tournament.
Spanish football is widely regarded for producing some of the best players of the modern era and indeed teams. To be marked as the best League in Europe, proven Champions League success is a minimum requirement.
Thankfully La Liga has produced five winners of Europe’s much-coveted entity in the last 10 seasons. Unsurprisingly, this is unmatched by any other European nation - with England a notable second with three winners in the last 10 campaigns.
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This season Spain will be represented by the ever-present galacticos Barcelona and Real Madrid alongside Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid - all automatically qualifying through their domestic league positions. Valencia are also returning to Champions League football for the first time in three years, having come through a tough two-legged knockout tie with French outfit Monaco to reach the group stage.
The final Spanish representative is Sevilla who qualified for this season’s competition by virtue of their second consecutive Europa League success last term. Unai Emery’s side are in for a tough battle to qualify from their particular group, with Italian champions Juventus, Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach accompanying them in Group D - living up to its billing as the Group of Death.
Real and Barcelona, on the other hand, will be slightly more optimistic about their chances of going deeper into the competition, with both fully expecting to qualify as comfortable group winners.
Before the group stage draw had taken place, Barcelona were the subject of a special tribute as they were acknowledged for winning their fifth European Cup beating Juventus in June, as part of what so far is a quadruple - with the Copa del Rey, League title and UEFA Super Cup all following suit.
Drawn against Bayer Leverkusen, Roma, BATE Borisov, the Catalans will have little problem advancing to the knockout stages once again and staying on course to repeat their success of two months ago.
Rafael Benitez faces a slightly more challenging task with French champions Paris Saint Germain to negotiate in group A, alongside Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo. The 2014 winners have been less than convincing under Benitez to date, with a far from ideal goalless draw kicking off their La Liga campaign.
However, the Spaniard is likely to be judged critically on his performances in the Champions League. As we’ve seen previously, most recently with Carlo Ancelotti’s reign, European success can hold a greater bearing over domestic achievements. The 2014 Champions League victory almost certainly kept Ancelotti in the Madrid hot-seat.
Atletico and Valencia will be quietly optimistic about their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, with neither drawn against particular stiff opposition. Simeone faces a daunting trip to Benfica but Turkish side Galatasaray and qualifiers Astana should pose less threat in group C and should be comfortably dispatched.
Nuno Espirito Santo meanwhile couldn’t have hoped for a better group, with his Valencia side drawn in group H alongside Russia's Zenit, Ligue 1’s Lyon and Belgian’s Gent.
The Spanish presence in this season’s Champions League is stronger than ever before and a continuation of success in Europe’s elite club tournament for Spanish teams wouldn’t be judged as unrealistic.
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