While Borussia Dortmund and Monaco have genuine stars in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Falcao, it may be their supporting cast of young talent that are the difference-makers. Dortmund’s 19 year old Ousmane Dembélé has become a crucial creator for the squad with 16 assists this season, and 18 year old Christian Pulisic has popped up in big moments, including setting up the equalizer against Real Madrid in the group stage. Opposite them, Kylian Mbappe has scored 11 goals in his past 11 matches for Monaco and will be one of this summer’s most sought-after prospects. He’s become an integral part of a Monaco side that has scored 88 goals, the most of any team in Europe’s top leagues. Both sides recently lost to their bigger domestic rivals - Dortmund were casually dismissed in a 4-1 loss to Bayern over the weekend, while Monaco fell to PSG 4-1 in the Coupe de la Ligue final 10 days ago - that gives each of these sides a point to prove.
Thomas Tuchel had Dortmund firing last season - nearly any other year, their 78 points would have been enough to win the title. But, as always, there’s Bayern. While their captain, Mats Hummels, has exited alongside Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Ilkay Gundogan (to opposite sides of Manchester), Dortmund have brought in capable replacements in Mario Götze and Andre Schürrle while also keeping hold of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. With master tinkerer Thomas Tuchel now settled as he takes on his second season at Signal Iduna Park, there will be few teams confident in overpowering or outsmarting Dortmund.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 1994, the principality’s club spent last season in the Europa league while finishing third in Ligue 1. Monaco struggled to find a reliable threat up top last season with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joint top scorers in the league with five goals apiece. To that end, Falcao is back from his disappointing loans in the Premier League with hopes to revive his career. Otherwise, Les Rouges et Blancs will look to the Portuguese duo of João Moutinho and the aforementioned Silva to control matches and create chances. They’ll face a difficult, but not impossible group which will include a trip to Moscow and matchups against Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen.
Dortmund somehow managed to keep hold of the electric forward who scored 39 goals last season.
The Greek defender will be even more crucial to Dortmund's season after captain Mats Hummels departure. His last name, Papastathopoulos, is too long to print, so his jersey simply reads, "Sokratis."
The versatile midfielder has made nearly 100 appearances for both the Portuguese national team and Monaco.
Scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in his last season at Monaco, before being injured in halfway through the season.