Turkish Airlines Euroleague fans will get a taste of what the planned new format will be like in the Top 16 as six of the 11 A License teams will face off in Group F, which should be re-coined as the Group of Death.

At least two European giants will fail to reach the Euroleague best-of-five Playoffs as only four teams will advance from Group F, which features record nine-time winners Real Madrid, six-time champs CSKA Moscow, three-time title winners Olympiacos, twice champions FC Barcelona Lassa as well as 1999 victors Zalgiris Kaunas. The other three teams are Laboral Luxta, Khimki Moscow Region and Brose Baskets Bamberg.

Madrid, CSKA, Olympiacos, Barcelona, Zalgiris and Laboral all have A-Licences, meaning they are guaranteed spots in the newly-formatted Euroleague starting next season.

But let’s stick with this season.

With only four Playoffs spots at stake, Group F plans to be a battle from the first game to last between December 29 and April 8, 2016. The main question is which of the powerhouses will be left behind after the second group stage. And could Khimki or Bamberg continue an up-and-down season for the A-License teams after Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and EA7 Emporio Armani Milano both failed to reach the Top 16.

Group F features no fewer than 19 previous Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four match-ups, including four of the last six finals.

CSKA with another chance to exorcise Olympiacos demons

CSKA hold a 12-6 record against Olympiacos in the Euroleague era, but the myth of Olympiacos has hung over the Moscow club since 2012.

CSKA fans of course hate recalling Olympiacos’ magical comeback in the 2012 London Final Four victory for the title. Moscow were bush-whacked a year later by Olympiacos in the 2013 Semi-Finals. And then a new mix of players and coach were not enough in last season’s Final Four to exorcise CSKA’s demons of Olympiacos and Vasilis Spanoulis as the veteran maestro awoke from his sleep to get the Greeks past the Russians in the Semi-Finals again.

CSKA have had some better luck with Barcelona at the Final Four, splitting the six encounters since 2003, when Barcelona won their first title after beating CSKA in the Semis. Moscow won in the 2006, 2009 and 2013 Semi-Finals while losing in the 2010 Semis and the 2014 Third Place Game.

CSKA and Laboral met in two Final Four Semis with the Spaniards winning in 2005 and CSKA getting the upper hand in 2008. CSKA also won in the 2010 and 2013 Playoffs.

And despite the 15 Euroleague titles between them, the CSKA-Madrid recent history doesn’t have many big games, having never met in a Final Four in the Euroleague era.

Olympiacos renews Final Four history with Madrid, Barcelona

Olympiacos meanwhile have had a storied Euroleague history with both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Olympiacos won the 2013 final over Madrid, who got their revenge by winning the 2015 title bout over the Greeks in front of the home fans.

Olympiacos beat Barcelona in the 2010 final and the 2012 Semi-Finals after Barcelona came out on top over the Greeks in the 2009 Third Place Game. Olympiacos continued their strong run with a 3-1 Playoffs win last season.

El Classico returns

Just like CSKA-Madrid, there really haven’t been so many Barcelona-Madrid showdowns in the Euroleague – though Madrid did beat Barcelona in the 2013 and 2014 Final Four Semi-Finals. Barcelona had won the Playoffs face-offs in 2006 and 2010.

The other Spanish team in Group F – Laboral Kuxta – has the other remaining Final Four appearance, losing in the Third Place Game to Barcelona in 2006.

Will the dominance in some match-ups continue?

The Group of Death actually includes a couple of match-ups which haven’t been close recently.

Madrid for example have dominated Zalgiris to the tune of an 11-1 record in the Euroleague era. Zalgiris haven’t had much luck against Barcelona either, losing 16 of 18 games – though Gintaras Krapikas’s team shocked Barcelona in Spain this season to snap a 14-game losing streak.

Zalgiris are still looking for their first victory in the Euroleague era against CSKA, having lost all 14 match-ups since 2003.

Nice to meet you

Despite all the big names, there will be three first-time meetings in the Euroleague as CSKA and Khimki have never played in Europe’s top competition. Madrid and Laboral also have never faced off in the Euroleague. And Bamberg and Khimki will also square off for the first time.

Underdogs is putting it mildly

Brose Baskets Bamberg were one of the positive surprises of the Regular Season, but it’s putting it mildly to say the German champions are underdogs in the group – according to historical stats. Bamberg have never won a Top 16 game in two appearances – 0-6 in 2006 and 0-14 during the 2012-13 season.

On top of that, Bamberg have an all-time Euroleague mark of 2-34 against the other seven teams in Group F. They have dropped all 10 games against CSKA; are 0-8 versus Zalgiris; did not win any of their four games against Laboral; and are also 0-4 against Barcelona.

Bamberg did beat Real Madrid on December 15, 2010 – the only win in eight games. And the Germans split their two games against Olympiacos in the 2010-11 season, winning at home.

Let the battles begin.