The Champions League group stage draw took place last week in Monaco and it threw up some very interesting match-ups and renewed some old rivalries. Over the next two weeks I will look over the groups and give my opinion on who will do well and who will fall short.
Manchester United – Shakhtar Donetsk – Bayer Leverkusen – Real Sociedad
Manchester United will undoubtedly enter this group as the hot favourites to progress but it might not be that straightforward. Shakhtar will provide a tough challenge and Leverkusen can also be tricky to beat. Those two will feel that they are fighting for second place in the group, but one good result and they could end up putting some pressure on first place. Sociedad are an unknown value in European football, this only their second appearance in the competition.
Real Madrid – Juventus – Galatasaray FC – Copenhagen
This looks to be a tough group with three strong teams who will be battling to go through. Real Madrid should be comfortably top of the four but both Juventus and Galatasaray will feel that they can get through after Dortmund proved that Madrid can be beaten last year. Copenhagen will have a tough time getting any points at all from this group, however they may have a chance of stealing a point at home.
Benfica – PSG – Olympiacos – Anderlecht
This group could be quite open and all four teams will go into it feeling that they have a chance of qualification. PSG have spent big over the last couple of years and will hope that summer signing Edison Cavani fires them into the next round. Benfica should also make it through but it could be close.
Bayern Munich – CSKA Moscow – Manchester City – Viktoria Plzen
Munich should top this group with ease having already won the Super Cup and starting reasonably strongly in the Bundesliga. Manchester City will hope to make it third time lucky having fallen short in the group stages for the last two years. CSKA will prove a test but one which the Citizens should pass. Plzen will have a tough time in the group but may pick up the odd point.
That’s the end of this half of my preview. Make sure to come back next week for part two, in which I’ll look at the remaining four groups. This year promises plenty of excitement and it will be interesting to see how the Spanish contingent respond to Germany’s bid for superiority last year.
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