The Group stage draw has finished and with teams knowing which opponents will they face against in the group stage matches, they can prepare accordingly. In this short article, I’ll give my predictions on how will the teams fare in each group. If you want a more precise preview and analysis of each match stay tuned, as UCL match previews will be available on this site in September.
2 of the teams stand out, and are expected to advance into the next stage of UCL. Those 2 teams are PSG and Arsenal. PSG is one of the strongest teams in the world, but the departure of Zlatan Ibrahinović might affect the team performance. How much will his absence be noticed we will see in September. Despite that, PSG still is a favourite to finish 1st in the group. Arsenal got their ticket in UCL with 2nd place finish in BPL. It’s a great accomplishment and they should not have too much problems finishing in top 2 in this group. PSG might cause them some problems, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Arsenal put up a strong fight even against French champions. Basel is a team that is expected to try their best. In words of their coach, they are happy with the draw and are delighted they will have a chance to play against PSG and Arsenal. On the other hand, they do not underestimate Ludogorets, who quite frankly do not have a chance to advance. Anyhow, they surely are extremely happy with a chance to compete in UCL.
|1. PSG||2. Arsenal||3. Basel||4. Ludogorets|
For me this is an close group, so I cannot tell outright who will advance and who will not. Each match will be extremely important in this group and we can expect a close result in the end. Even the coaches of Benfica and Dynamo are well aware of this fact. Benfica director, Lourenco Coelho has stated ” The draw produced a very even group. It will be tough as there are three domestic champions and the second-placed side in the Italian league. We always want to get through the first knockout stage. Everything is wide open.” Dynamo coach has some similar words to say: “We have a very even group, just like last season, with three domestic champions and one runner-up from a top European league. We have to approach every match in the same manner and with the same commitment, and set highest possible goals. It could have been much worse. Now we have an exciting group with teams who are all equally strong, where everyone has a chances of reaching the knockout phase. I hope the lads understand that.” I’ll surely watch out for this group as I am sure it will be an exciting battle for top 2 spots.
|1. Benfica||2. Napoli||3. Dynamo Kiev||4. Besiktas|
I think there is not much to say, as we have 2 teams that are a favourite to win UCL and 2 underdogs. Barcelona, 4 time UCL champion ha s a good chance to win this year and add another title to their name, but the road will be hard. Nevertheless Barcelona’s goal is the title and nothing less. Manchester City, another strong competitor for the title. Last year they got knocked out by Real Madrid, by only 1 goal. Now they are back and I expect them to put up a strong fight. The team looks strong and the goal is clear. Title. Gladbach and Celtic cannot have much hope for advancing. Nevertheless, they surely won’t surrender. The underdogs might surprise us, and the usually do, Borussia Monchengladbach has put up a strong fight against Man City last year and Txiki Begiristain (Man City sporting director) did not forget that. He stated those matches were hard and they do respect Borussia, as they do Celtic.
|1. Barcelona||2. Man City||3. Monchengladbach||4. Celtic|
|Bayern Munich||Atletico Madrid||PSV||Rostov|
Bayern knows Atletico very well, as they knocked the German side out of UCL semi-finals last year. Both of the mentioned teas are really strong and are one of the favourites to win this year’s UCL. It seems as an easy group for Bayern and Atletico. But we mustn’t forget Atletico defeated Bayern last year. Rostov comfortably won over Ajax and PSV, and only narrowly lost against Atletico (after shootouts). Att of the teams respect each other, as anything can happen on football pitch. Of course it’s unlikely for Rostov and PSV to advance, but let’s wait and see how it plays out.
|1. Bayern Munich||2. Atletico Madrid||3. PSV||4. Rostov|
This group is similar to group B, it’s very even and even here it’s hard to call out 2 teams who will advance. Tottenham and Leverkusen look better on the paper, but CSKA has a secret advantage, and it’s their home pitch. Any European team that plays in Russia struggled due to different climate. If I had to predict something, I don’t see Monaco advancing, as for CSKA, they might surprise their opponents and advance. We will have to wait and see how they perform in this season before giving an more in depth preview.
|1. Leverkusen||2. Tottenham||3. CSKA Moscow||4. Monaco|
|Real Madrid||Borussia Dortmund||Sporting CP||Legia|
It seems Real and Dortmund just cant play without facing each other. It is becoming something like an European derby when these two play. This will be the 11th time these two teams met each other in UEFA CHampions League. Both of the teams are strong and a few levels better that their group opponents. Sporting and Legua need a miracle to advance here.
|1. Real Madrid||2. Borussia Dortmund||3. Sporting CP||4. Legia|
Leicester, the hero of last year’s season has gotten a pretty decent draw if you ask me. I would not be surprised if they advance into the next stage and fulfil the wish of Claudio Ranieri, who wants to see “his players fight against the best in Europe”. He said he was satisfied with last season, but he wants more. Now they have a great opportunity to show what they have got. Still they should not underestimate Porto. They are experienced team and a strong one too. As for Copenhagen and Club Brugge, they could surprise us, but I do not see them advancing.
|1. Porto||2. Leicester||3. Copenhagen||4. Brugge|
Juventus is more than prepared for European football, so I expect them to walk over this group. With 1 more spot for advancing being open, Sevilla, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb will have to battle it out between them. Dinamo did not fare well in last year’s UCL and we cannot expect them to do much better this season. Now it comes down to Sevilla and Lyon. Hard to call, as they are both strong teams. I will give a slight edge to Sevilla, due to its superb performances in Europa League.
|1. Juventus||2. Sevilla||3. Lyon||4. Dinamo Zagreb|
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