With the start of the new season comes the start of European football as well. The Champions League in particular is a highly anticipated competition, simply because it allows so many talented players to compete together. Real Madrid, for example, are a treat to watch just by themselves. But imagine if they play against Bayern or United. The sheer number of world class players on the pitch makes it a joy for the fans.
This season’s Champions League promises to be highly entertaining; the new rules for the pots has seen some interesting draws take place. Let‘s have a look at each individual group:
Big money clubs Real Madrid and Paris St. Germain are both in Group A, and are the most likely to qualify for the next round. Their opponents in the group are Swedish club Malmo, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic started his career; and Ukranian powerhouse Shakhtar Donetsk. While Malmo are not expected to pose any challenge, Shakhtar have the capability to upset bigger teams, especially at home.
This group is extremely competitive, thanks to the new pot system. Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven find themselves grouped with German runners-up Wolfsburg and star-studded Manchester United. The fourth team in this group, CSKA Moskva, also has the players to pull off an upset.
It is practically impossible to predict who will progress. Manchester United are generally a safe bet, but have been far from their best over the past couple of seasons and could be handed a few shock defeats. Wolfsburg look strong, and I would pick them over PSV to secure the second qualification spot. This group will probably go right down to the wire, and we may have to wait until Matchday 6 to have any idea of what to expect.
Spanish side Atletico Madrid and Portuguese champions Benefica are the biggest teams in this group. Atletico have shown what they are capable of in Europe, and Benefica are generally strong in continental competitions as well. Turkish side Galatasaray could prove to be a thorn in their side, however.
The Turks have several quality players in their side, and the likes of Podolski, Grosskreutz and Sneijder could well cause an upset. A couple of seasons ago, they managed to eliminate Juventus in the group stages and it would be foolish to write them off.
The fourth team in the group is FC Astana from Kazakhstan. They will also cause problems, if only because of the massive amount of travel required to get there for away games.
Another very strong group, it features Italian champions Juventus alongside English club Manchester City. Apart from these two start-studded lineups the group also contains Sevilla, the first team to qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa; and German side Gladbach, who finished third in the Bundesliga last season.
Juventus is the most likely to qualify; they were runners-up the previous season and are hugely experienced at playing in Europe. Manchester City, for all their big names, have struggled in Europe on a regular basis and are yet to progress beyond the group stages. They will certainly be tested by Sevilla and Gladbach, who are not to be taken lightly at home.
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