With the most anticipated club competition uefa Champions League back, we are going to see 32 European giant clubs go head to head in contest to become the champion of Europe.
Regardless, this year’s draw left some interesting groups. Some of them may be rather clear-cut, but a surprising amount are less call-able.
So, let us get on it.
- CSKA Moscow;
- Manchester United.
The first group sort of disproves my introduction. While Basel and CSKA Moscow are nothing to sneeze at, I don’t think they have much chances of toppling Benfica and Manchester United.
The Portuguese and British should move on to the knockout stages. However, I don’t expect them to come out unscathed.�The trips to Russia could give the other teams some trouble, but not enough to believe this group is much of a toss.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in the battle for third place.
Verdict:�Interesting Europa League battle, but no surprises expected.~
- Bayern Munich
This group seems decided already with the German and French football power house tagged to finish 1st and 2nd.�
But guess what this is football.. a shocker won’t be a surprise.
Verdict: Bayern�and Psg advances to next round.�
- Atlético de Madrid;
I think we can all safely bet on�Qarabağ ending up last. The rest of the group, however, is rather exciting. A resurgent Chelsea, the ever-tough Atlético and a Totti-less Roma make up for an interesting set of fixtures. My bet is on Atlético and Chelsea advancing, but I would be foolish to rule Roma out. So would you.
Mind you, even if�Qarabağ will probably end up eliminated, they can still take some points from the other three. The trip to Baku is long.
Verdict:�three-horse race. Group of death.
- Sporting CP.
This group offers the same sort of predicament as Group A. We have two clear-cut favourites in Barcelona and Juventus. Naturally, these two look poised to advance. However, given Barcelona’s iffy moment, it could very well be that the Italians take the first spot.
The battle for third, as is commonplace, provides the firepower. Sporting was close to taking three points from the Santiago Bernabéu last year. Olympiacos gave Bayern some trouble as well.
Verdict:�Barcelona and Juventus advance. Battle for third is hot.
- Spartak Moscow.
Group E looks about as clear-cut as they get. You and I know that Liverpool and Sevilla will advance, save for perhaps an incredible mishap.
In the battle for third, Spartak Moscow look the better fit for the part. Still, there is very little to do here in terms of predictions.
Verdict:�Interesting battle for first, but not much room for surprise.
- Manchester City;
- Shakhtar Donetsk.
I find this group difficult to call. None of the teams are particularly bad. Napoli and Shakhtar offer a share of experience. Manchester City will be looking to improve their European reputation. Feyenoord return after some fifteen years without proper CL football. The mix is rather interesting, and I am proud to call this one a toss-up.
Verdict:�City and Napoli will probably make it through, but no guarantees.
- RB Leipzig.
Even if I hate RB Leipzig, there is a bit of me that wants to see how they fare in Europe. Alas, UEFA did not give them a big enough test. Yes, the other teams are rather good. However, RB Leipzig avoided most difficult draws. Monaco boast a very good team, as do Porto, but by avoiding the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid or PSG, the bulls can be happy.
Verdict:�Another toss-up.�Beşiktaş look the likeliest to end up last, though.
- APOEL Nicosia;
- Borussia Dortmund;
- Real Madrid;
- Tottenham Hotspur.
I saved the best for last. Forget the fact that APOEL Nicosia is in here. Real Madrid did not get a particularly easy group. That’s not to say they won’t make it through. Still they have some tough opposition in Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur. Those two will be competing for second, most likely, but again, I’m not ruling out any surprises.
As with�Qarabağ, the trip to Cyprus for APOEL is lengthy and exhausting. It could be trickier than most people think.
Verdict:�No, Real Madrid won’t be eliminated in the group stage. But Dortmund could.
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