After a four year absence, Borussia Monchengladbach return to Europe's elite club competition, the UEFA Champions League, facing a tough group stage draw alongside Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Inter Milan.

Here, I will be assessing all three of their opponents ahead of the upcoming campaign.

Real Madrid

How did last season go ?

Los Blancos won an unprecedented 34th La Liga under former player Zinedine Zidane, beating arch rivals FC Barcelona to the Spanish title by five points. This was in large part down to the success of a number of younger players coming through, such as Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior, and Federico Valverde.

The manager - Zinedine Zidane

The Frenchman guided Real Madrid to their second league title since being appointed manager. On top of his success in the league, the Los Blancos icon won three Champions Leagues in a row from 2016 to 2018. He now doesn't just have his name heralded in Real Madrid folklore for his performances on the pitch, but also for his coaching masterclasses off of it as well.

How will they line-up? 

Thibaut Courtois; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Ferland Mendy; Toni Kroos, Casemiro, Luka Modric; Rodrygo, Karim Benzema, Eden Hazard (4-3-3)

Transfer business

Ins: Martin Odegaard (Return from loan at Real Sociedad), Alvaro Odriozola (Return from loan at Bayern Munich)

Outs: Achraf Hakimi to Inter Milan, Sergio Reguilon to Tottenham Hotspur, Oscar Rodriguez to Sevilla, James Rodriguez to Everton, Gareth Bale to Tottenham (Loan), Alphonse Areola to PSG (Expiry of loan)

Star men

Captain Sergio Ramos is having a larger impact than ever on the Real Madrid team. Now 34, the Spaniard had his best goal scoring season to date last term, with an impressive 11 goals from centre back. Still strong in defence with more license to roam forward, the stalwart of the Los Blancos backline for the past decade is as dangerous as ever.

Karim Benzema is in the form of his life for the Madrid outfit. In the past, the limelight has shone towards the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Gareth Bale. However, it is now firmly fixated on the Frenchman. Like Ramos, Benzema had the season of his life last time out, with 21 goals and eight assists while being the main lynchpin in attack. The man signed from Lyon 11 years ago is as integral as anybody to this current Madrid side.

Shakhtar Donetsk

How did last season go ?

Winning the league by 14 points in Luis Castro's first season in charge will have gone down as a resounding success. The powerhouses from Eastern Europe have outwitted Dynamo Kyiv in the last four seasons as the Ukranian Premier League firmly remains a two-horse race.

The manager - Luis Castro

Taking over from his fellow countryman Paulo Fonseca at the beginning of last season, Castro's first campaign in charge was majorly positive, winning the league by quite a distance while also getting to the UEFA Europa League semifinals. Managing Shakhtar is Castro's first venture out of his native Portugal, where he has managed teams such as FC Porto, Rio Ave, and Vitoria Guimaraes.

How will they line-up?

Andriy Pyatov; Dodo, Sergey Kryvtsov, Davit Khocholava, Mykola Matviienko; Taras Stepanenko, Marcos Antonio; Marlos, Alan Patrick, Taison; Junior Moraes (4-2-3-1)

Transfer business

Ins: Bogdan Butko (Return from loan at Lech Poznan)

Outs: Olarenwaju Kayode to Sivasspor (Loan), Wellington Nem (Released)

Star men

The two Brazilian born wide men Taison and Marlos are the main attacking outlets in this Shakhtar side. Both were signed from fellow Ukranian league team Metallist Kharkiv, with Taison joining in 2013 before Marlos came in a year later. The two mix bundles of skill with bags of pace and have been causing European defences all sorts of problems for years now. Marlos has since gained Ukranian citizenship, and has played for the national team 17 times.

Inter Milan

How did last season go?

A significant improvement on years before in Antonio Conte's first campaign in charge, the Nerazzurri finished only one point behind champions Juventus. Signings such as Romelu Lukaku and Nicolo Barella gave the men from Milan the bite that they needed.

The manager - Antonio Conte

Every English football fan will remember the enthusiastic Italian from his spell at Chelsea, winning the Premier League in his first season in charge. Wherever Conte has gone, his team has been successful, winning the Scudetto at Juventus and now significantly improving a faltering Inter outfit, leading them to a second place finish as well as the Europa League final. This time around, he will be looking to do one better and add some more silverware to the already packed trophy cabinet at the San Siro.

How will they line-up? 

Samir Handanovic; Stefan de Vrij, Alessandro Bastoni, Aleksandar Kolarov; Achraf Hakimi, Nicolo Barella, Arturo Vidal, Roberto Gagliardini, Ashley Young; Lautaro Martinez, Romelu Lukaku (3-5-2)

Transfer business

Ins: Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Aleksandar Kolarov from Roma, Arturo Vidal from Barcelona, Ivan Perisic (Return from loan at Bayern Munich), Joao Mario (Return from loan at Lokomotiv Moscow), Radja Nainggolan (Return from loan at Cagliari)

Outs: Valentino Lazaro to Borussia Monchengladbach (Loan), Diego Godin to Cagliari, Borja Valero to Fiorentina, Cristiano Biraghi to Fiorentina (Return from loan), Victor Moses to Chelsea (Return from loan), Antonio Candreva to Sampdoria (Loan)

Star men

An old school front two is the main attraction to Antonio Conte's Inter Milan side. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez have formed a formidable partnership that sent shivers through backlines across Italy and the Europa League last season. The big Belgian Lukaku was voted Europa League Player Of The Season for his contribution as Inter reached the final, including a hat-trick against fellow Group B opponents Shakhtar Donetsk in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, Martinez had a breakthrough season to remember, scoring 14 goals in his second year in Milan. The pace and finesse of the 23 year old is the perfect foil for the power and strength of his strike partner, and the two will likely be even more dangerous this campaign. 

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