Friday, 30 August 2013

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE ANALYSIS



The Champions League is back and this season promises a lot of drama in the groups as old powerhouses have been drawn in the same groups. AC Milan and Barcelona have been drawn once again ( its getting suspicious!!!) while Real Madrid face Juventus. Arsenal have the misfortune of being in the group of death alongside Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Olympique Marseille. Below are our take on each group:

GROUP A: MANCHESTER UNITED, SHAKHTAR DONESTK, BAYER LEVERKUSEN & REAL SOCIEDAD.




United are the clear favourites in this group alongside Bayer Leverkusen who finished 3rd in the Bundesliga last season. The English Champions will be happy to have avoided tougher opponents and can rely on their experience and pedigree to squeeze through a tricky group with Shakhtar Donestk and Real Sociedad offering a potential banana Skinner. Sociedad are my wild card pick, surprising everyone in Spain last season when they finished 4th and totally outclassing Olympique Lyon in the qualifying round. Ukranian Champions Shakhtar are in with a shout but I'm not sure they have what it takes to progress. Prediction: Man Utd and Leverkusen to progress.

GROUP B: REAL MADRID, JUVENTUS, GALATASARAY & COPENHAGEN.




Real Madrid and Juventus will be seen as the two clear favorites but one can't ignore the threat posed by Turkish Champions Galatasaray led by Faith Terim and with the likes of Wesley Sneijder, Burak Yilmaz and Didier Drogba in tow. Real Madrid will look to get their La Decima campaign off with a convincing performance in this group compared to last season's while Juventus will fancy their chances of claiming top spot. Danish champions Copenhagen will curse their luck for getting such a tough group and will be the whipping boys. Prediction: Juventus and Real Madrid to progress.

GROUP C: PSG, ANDERLECHT, BENFICA & OLYMPIACOS.



A relatively even group with the exception of PSG who will be pleased with their opponents. Benfica should also thank their stars and will feel they should at least finish second. However Greek champions Olympiacos are a real threat and Belgium champions Anderlecht should make things a bit complex for the powerhouses. Expect a surprise from this group. Prediction: PSG and Benfica to progress.

GROUP D: BAYERN MUNICH, MANCHESTER CITY,CSKA MOSCOW & VIKTORIA PLZEN.




European Champions Bayern Munich start their defense with a relatively easy group. Pep Guardiola's side will expect to top the group comfortably and their only threat is Man City. Manuel Pellegrini's side will hope its third time lucky having failed to progress past the group stages in the past two seasons. For Man City, this is it and they have been given a golden chance to progress to the knock out stages. CSKA Moscow will count on home advantage to give them a fighting chance while Czech champions Viktoria Plzen will take this as a learning experience. Prediction: Manchester City and Bayern Munich to progress.

GROUP E: CHELSEA, SCHALKE 04, FC BASEL, & STEAUA BUCURESTI



.Jose Mourinho's Chelsea will be the dominant force in this group and may possibly finish top with maximum points. Schalke 04 will consider themselves second best although Basel are a decent side capable of springing surprises. Both teams should slug it out for second spot. Steaua Bucuresti of Romania will be tough to crack at home but will ultiamately finish bottom. Prediction: Chelsea and Basel to progress.

GROUP F: ARSENAL, BORUSSIA DORTMUND, NAPOLI & OLYMPIQUE MARSEILLE.



This is undoubtedly the group of death and unlike other groups, no team is guaranteed of progression. Arsenal who failed to bolster their squad will bank on their experience in the group stages but that may not be enough in this group. Last season finalist's Dortmund have bought well having lost Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich with Pierre Emerick Aubamayeng, Henrik Mikhitaryan and Sokratis joining the Germans. Robert Lewandowski is staying for one more season and they look mean and sharp having started their Bundesliga campaign with 3 back to back wins. Napoli have done decently as well, recruiting Gonzalo Higuain to replace Cavani and Rafeal Benitez side look a real threat in this group with a compact team. Marseille are also a decent side but unfortunate to draw clearly better opponents. For Wenger and Arsenal, this is a real test of character and I will be shocked if they progress. Prediction: Napoli and Dortmund to progress.

GROUP G: FC PORTO, ATLETICO MADRID, ZENIT ST PETERSBURG & AUSTRIA WIEN.



A tricky group that promises to be mouth watering and filled with surprises. Fc Porto will consider themselves Champions League veterans and will look to secure top spot. However in Atletico Madrid led by Diego Simeone, they face a tough side who will see no reason they can't finish top. Zenit have a decent squad and Luciano Spalletti is a wily customer who will make his team cause problems. Austria Wien have nothing to fight for but pride. Prediction: Zenit and Atletico to progress.

GROUP H: AC MILAN, FC BARCELONA, CELTIC & AJAX.



This group definitely has a lot of European history and it sees Barce and Milan meet for the third consecutive year( its gettin boring!!!). Spanish Champions Barce will be favourites to top the group while Milan will look to seal second spot and exercise their demons against the Blaugrana. Celtic and Ajax should keep us intrigued as to who will seal third spot. Prediction: Barcelona and Milan to progress.

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1 comment:

  1. Sportunes. igbayii laaro..lol

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