In a little under two weeks, the group stages of the UEFA Champions League will kick off and champions Real Madrid will begin the defence of their European crown.
The defending champions of Europe have been drawn in Group F along with familiar foes Shakhtar Donetsk, Bundesliga giants RB Leipzig and Scottish champions Celtic.
And UEFA has now released the official schedule for the group stages of the Champions League which is set to begin on September 6.
Real Madrid will kickstart their journey in the continental competition against Celtic away from home, which will come only a few days after a tricky La Liga clash against Real Sociedad at home.
A week later, Los Blancos will lock horns with RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu on September 14, which will only be days before the derby against Atletico Madrid, post which teams will fly off on the international break.
Upon return from the two-week break, Real Madrid will face Shakhtar Donetsk in their third Champions League fixture on October 4, at home, before facing the Ukrainian giants away from home a week later on October 11.
Real Madrid’s penultimate fixture in the group stages of the Champions League will come against RB Leipzig on October 25 at the Red Bull Arena. They will finally bring an end to the first round of the continental competition with a home game versus Celtic on November 2.
Having lifted the trophy last season, the pressure will be on Carlo Ancelotti & co. to repeat the heroics again this time out. And while the draw might seem to easy on the paper, away trips to Leipzig, Shakhtar and Celtic could prove to be tricky affairs.
UFC Champion to kick off Real Madrid vs Sevilla, sends message to Mbappe: “Lucky to play for the best club in the world”
Coming on the back of his triumph at UFC, Featherweight champion Ilia Topuria has announced he will take honorary kick-off in the upcoming Real Madrid vs Sevilla in La Liga this weekend.
Topuria confirmed this in a recent press conference in the Spanish capital this midweek.
A self-proclaimed Madridista, Topuria expressed his deep connection with the club and even sent a message to Kylian Mbappe, who is widely expected to join the club on a free transfer this summer.
Ilia Topuria: A hardcore Madridista
Ilia Topuria did not hold back his affection for Real Madrid, stating, “For me, the team that represents the values of Spain the most is Real Madrid.”
The Georgian-Spaniard UFC champion went on to confirm that he will meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off.
“I’m going to meet Florentino Perez on Sunday and take the kick-off,” he said (h/t Mundo Deportivo).
Although born in Germany, Topuria made Spain proud last Saturday when he beat Alexander Volkanovski in the second round. In the process, he became the first fighter from Spain to capture a UFC belt.
Topuria’s triumph has granted him overnight success in Spain, with the 27-year-old even becoming a cultural icon for many.
Topuria’s message for Mbappe
Other than professing his love for Real Madrid, Ilia Topuria also had a message for Mbappe.
When asked about the Frenchman potentially joining Real Madrid this summer, he said, “Welcome. He’s lucky to play for the best club in the world.”
Real Madrid, for their part, also congratulated Topuria on his triumph. “Congratulations on your historic triumph for Spanish sport, Ilia Topuria. We are proud that a great Real Madrid fan like you becomes UFC world champion,” the club posted on X.
Real Madrid fans, meanwhile, will be excited to witness Topuria taking the honorary kickoff as Los Blancos take on Sevilla this weekend, with three crucial points on the line.