Champions League draw: Who's been drawn against who and where could the teams finish?
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With the draw being made and the start of proceedings just weeks away, we take a look at the teams battling out this year's Champions League.
Group A: Atletico Madrid, Dortmund, Monaco, Club Brugge
What a group to start with.
Brugge will be favourites to drop out of Europe all together here, but the remaining spots will be a very close contest.
Many people’s favourites will be Atletico after a really good summer of signings, including Monaco’s star player Thomas Lemar.
After that, I would personally go for Dortmund to progress as I feel they have a stronger squad with the likes of Reus, Sancho, Pulisic and their latest acquisition of Witsel.
Keep your eye on this one.
Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV, Inter Milan
Even PSV can’t be discounted here with talisman Lozano but, like Brugge, they stand out as the outside favourites.
Inter return to the fold with the 2010 champions sporting Icardi to lead the line as well as Nainggolan being a massive addition to their midfield. Their ties with Spurs will give them nightmares of Bale running down the left.
Even so, I can’t look past Barca and Spurs. Spurs have proved themselves as an incredibly strong side and it wouldn’t surprise me if they actually topped the group after they bettered Madrid last year.
Group C: PSG, Napoli, Liverpool and Crvena Zvezda
The games keep coming.
A fantastic test for Liverpool to play the superstars of PSG. This will give them a great chance to prove that last season’s run to the final was no fluke. With the backdrop of Anfield, Liverpool will at the very least prove a stern test for the Parisiens.
Group D: Lokomotiv Moskva, Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray
Difficult to call this one.
You suspect that any teams that progress from the other groups will be looking at wanting to take any of these in the round of sixteen.
Having said that, these teams do have the qualities to hurt others, particularly Schalke who finished second to Bayern in Germany last season. They are my favourites to progress.
After that, I would personally go for Porto with Galatasaray dropping into the Europa League.
Group E: Bayern, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens
Another great draw, although it really is a fight for second.
They have a good young squad with the likes of de Jong who was linked to Barcelona this summer and de
Benfica also has good players but last season didn’t perform well in the group stages and could even fall to Athens.
Group F: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim
Definitely not an easy draw for Manchester City.
Shakhtar was the first team to beat the Citizens last season, one of only few who could boast that, along with Wigan. However, after losing key men in Fred and Bernard to Premier League clubs, it will take a lot to fill those shoes this time around.
Lyon has some very good players in Depay and Fekir so the matches with the French outfit are definitely one to watch.
Hoffenheim have proved an astute outfit in recent years under Julian Nagelsmann, showing a great amount of organisation and tactical flexibility. Another stern test for Manchester City but, having doubted this team before, I’m reluctant to do so again.
The Blues and Lyon to go through for me, Hoffenheim could upset a few in the Europa League though.
Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moskva, Plzen
The three in a row champions have lost their king.
Cristiano has gone to Italy and Real Madrid haven’t bought a replacement, very surprisingly. It remains to be seen if they are playing the long game to find a replacement but in the meantime, it gives others the opportunity.
Though that is a very big set of shoes to fill for the likes of Bale and Asensio. The quality in the rest of the squad is incredible with the likes of Kroos, Ramos and potential Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modric. They should win comfortably.
Roma surprised everyone by reaching the semis with an incredible comeback against Barcelona. Steven N’Zonzi, Javier Pastore and Justin Kluivert are very good acquisitions to replace those that have left such as Nainggolan and have arguably strengthened them which should seem them follow Madrid through to the knockout stages.
My pick for the Europa spot is CSKA with Plzen to drop out.
Group H: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys
Cristiano returning to Old Trafford, Pogba returning to Juve and Kevin Mbabu in the Champions League. Wow.
A mouth-watering prospect of two
After the start of the season United have had, it is a great chance to prove their worthiness in the competition and for Jose to prove any doubters wrong by beating the Turin outfit, even with their new superstar.
But Cristiano revels in the spotlight and there will be no bigger spotlight than the one on him at Old Trafford.
Even so, United should also be worried about the prospect of Valencia, who
Along with new faces Batshuayi and Gamiero, there is a great squad that can hurt United home and away. If the Red Devils can find the winning touch again, I’m sure they can better the Spanish outfit but even an in-form United will be challenged.
I’ll go for Juve to top the group, United second, Valencia third with Young Boys dropping out.
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