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UEFA Champions League: The National Student Sports Writer's Predictions 2018/19

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The wait is almost over! The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League season gets underway on Tuesday and six of our writers from the National Student’s Sports Section have given their views and predictions for what is expected to be yet another enthralling and entertaining UCL campaign.

Joe Rindl - Assistant Sports Editor

University of Salford - Studying Broadcast Journalism

 

Who will win the Champions League?

And so it returns. The vehement, emphatic, fast-paced, nail biting pinnacle of European football that is - The UEFA Champions League. I can already hear the music, the flowing clips of former title winners now soft almost mythical; losing their crispness as time advances. But, who, dear friends, will join them? Who will go down in their clubs folklaw? A promotion from mere man to God. Well, for me, it’s Juventus. The Old Lady’s uber efficiency will persevere cruelly with the absence of her favourite son.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

Would it be wrong to call the English Champions a surprise package? Manchester City play scintillating, expressive football and currently find themselves in a friendly, beneficial race with their Women’s side as to who will be the first of the sky blue’s teams to lift the coveted trophy. Expect a semi final appearance at least for both sides of this gifted coin; although coin probably isn’t the right word, let’s go with note instead.

Who is your player to watch?

Paul Pogba. Okay this may be cheating, but I always struggle to unearth hidden gems, it’s why I could never get into Football Manager. Pogba is a FIFA 2015 World XI alumni and a World Cup final goalscorer; but it still feels as if he is yet to fulfill his prodigious potential. He displayed one of the worst performances from a Manchester United player in recent history during his 30 minute cameo against Seville in the second leg of last season's Round of 16 stage. Yet, I believe he will come good this campaign, even surprising a few of his doubters along the way.

Taran Dhamrait

University of Salford - Studying Broadcast Journalism

Who will win the Champions League?

Although Manchester City have been tipped by many as favourites to win the 2018 Champions League, I fancy PSG to lift their first ever Champions League. Under new management in Thomas Tuchel. They have made a blistering start to the season winning their first 5 games, scoring 17 and conceding only 4. It would be nice for Buffon and PSG to win there first champions leagues, although many would disagree after Buffon’s antics towards referee Michael Oliver last year.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

Napoli are the ones to watch for me, although losing Sarri and Jorginho they’ve brought in Carlo Ancelotti who is one of only 3 managers to win the competition 3 times.

Who is your player to watch?

It was a tough call between two of Ajax best young talents. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt are two young Dutch internationals that will be looking to impress in this year’s competition and perhaps seek a future big money move.

George Whitehouse

University of Salford - Studying Broadcast Journalism

 

Who will win the Champions League?

For me it’s Barcelona, getting knocked out of the quarter finals by Roma last year was likely a one off, the tie looked settled after their impressive first leg. The Catalonians have recruited well in the summer, bringing in Malcom and Arthur to add to their already frightening attack. Coutinho was unable to play in the tournament last season due to having already made appearances for Liverpool in the group stages so he will be a major boost as well as new signing Arturo Vidal who will add extra depth and experience now that Iniesta has moved on.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

Atletico Madrid. They made some outstanding purchases during the summer including French winger Thomas Lemar from Monaco and Portuguese forward Gelson Martins. An extra bonus was keeping star striker Antoine Griezmann who seemed destined to move to league rivals Barcelona. Atletico have a very strong defence which includes Diego Godin and one of the best goalkeepers in the world Jan Oblak.

Who is your player to watch?

Thomas Lemar. He has come to Atletico with a point to prove. The young Frenchman was one of the star players when Monaco won the Ligue 1 in 2016 and attracted a lot of attention from some of Europe's' biggest clubs. He may feel he has a point to prove after a very ordinary season last year and lack of playing time during France's successful World Cup campaign.

Rob Pratley

University of Southampton - Studying English Literature

 

Who will win the Champions League?

I’m really undecided. The Champions League's return raises more questions than answers. Can Real Madrid do the unthinkable and retain the title once again for a fourth year running? Are Liverpool going to be able to repeat their heroics from last year, or will Europe's finest crack the Salah, Firmino and Mane trio? And what of Manchester City and PSG- both have invested heavily in recent years and enjoyed domestic success, without being able to crack the international stage.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

Watch out for Ancelotti's Napoli to provide the shock factor in the vociferous Stadio San Paulo, buoyed by the excellent Insigne, Hamsik and Mertens.

Who is your player to watch?

I’m not sure about a specific player to watch; but a top match of the group stage? Barcelona vs Tottenham at the Camp Nou - can Kane, Alli and Pochettino finally prove himself after years of (say it quietly) underachieving and bottling?

Gaurav Chaddah

University of Salford - Studying Multimedia Journalism

 

Who will win the Champions League?

Barcelona. The Spanish giants have had to suffer and watch arch rivals Real Madrid claim the last three Champions Leagues however this year will be different. Madrid losing Ronaldo and not really replacing him makes them a lot weaker and with a wealth of attacking options for Barcelona this could be their year.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

Atlético usually are in the later stages of the Champions League but found themselves demoted to the Europa League last season. This season however I fancy them to go far again, led by the brilliant Simeone, Oblak in goal, Godin at the back and attacking options including Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann, they have to be better this year. It’s also interesting that there ground, which was only built last year, will host this years final, that could be even more of an incentive.

Who is your player to watch?

I think this could be a huge breakthrough year for the Frenchman, Ousmane Dembele who’s arguably not justified his big price tag since joining Barcelona from Dortmund. Game time has often been limited and goals have been hard to come by but maybe this year the luck will change for the young talent.

Nathan Best

UCFB Etihad - Studying Multimedia Journalism

 

Who will win the Champions League?

For me, I don't think you can look past Bayern Munich in terms of winning the competition. Over the past few years, they have arguably had the best assembled squad in the competition and I think this could be the year where it finally comes together for them as they look to win it for the first time since 2013.

Who do you think will be the tournament's surprise package?

The surprise package I am going for is Inter Milan. With players such as Icardi and World Cup finalist Ivan Perisic, they could spring a surprise or two.

Who is your player to watch?

When you think about players to watch, you have the likes of Neymar, Ronaldo, Messi etc but one who I think could make an impact is youngster Jadon Sancho at Borussia Dortmund.

 

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