The new season of the UEFA Champions League is set to start on 13 September. Last week, draws for the group stages were held in Monaco and it did produce some interesting match-upsLet’s analyse the initial stages of this draw.
Arsenal, Basel, Ludogorets Razgrad, Paris Saint Germain
Arsenal and PSG look clear favourites. Arsenal has improved their squad from last season and PSG are eager to win their first UCL. It is going to be an intriguing battle. Basel can’t be underestimated too and at home they can rip apart the best of opposition.
Benfica, Besiktas, Dynamo Kyiv, SSC Napoli
Benfica is looking strong, last season they gave a great fight to FC Bayern. To top the group the Portuguese champions will have to take on inexperienced but promising teams such as Besiktas and Kyiv. The matches against Napoli are going to be interesting. Benfica and Napoli look likely to qualify but the other two can produce surprises.
Barcelona, Borussia M’ Gladbach, Celtic, Manchester City
This looks like the group of death. The most mouth-watering clash is between Manchester City and Barcelona in which Pep Guardiola will face the team which he took to dominance. M’ Gladbach looks promising and is known to play fast, attacking football. They are definitely capable of giving top teams, a run for their money.
Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munchen, FC Rostov, PSV Eindhoven
In group D, the marquee clash is between Atletico Madrid and Bayern. The Bavarians will try to take revenge of last year’s semi-final defeat to Atletico. Atletico Madrid ousted Bayern with their tactical superiority. Can they do it again? PSV looks great too, last season they were eliminated from R16 against Atletico in penalty shootouts.
Bayer Leverkusen, CSKA Moscow, Monaco, Tottenham Hotspur
This group looks tricky for Spurs. Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco are strong teams. CSKA Moscow can’t be underestimated. However, Spurs should be happy that there isn’t any European giant in their group.
Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Legia Warszawa, Sporting CP
Defending champions Real Madrid will start their title defence against Sporting CP where Cristiano Ronaldo will be up against his former team. The match between Dortmund and Real Madrid is going to be really exciting. Both should easily qualify from this group, the battle will be about topping the group.
Club Brugge, FC Kobenhavn, FC Porto, Leicester City
Last season’s fairytale, Leicester City have got an easy group. They should easily qualify from this group. Meanwhile, Porto are determined to give a great fight to Leicester and progress further.
Dinamo Zagreb, Juventus, Lyon, Sevilla
After winning 5 consecutive Serie A titles, Juventus are looking for European glory. They have bolstered their line-up by signing Gonzalo Higuain and Dani Alves. Sevilla have won three consecutive Europa league titles, but this time under Sampaoli they will try to stamp their authority on the biggest European competition. Zagreb and Lyon will fight for Europa League spots.
Real Madrid is looking strong for a title defence. Barcelona have signed many players this summer and they will be gunning to take the European crown back from their rivals. Bayern fans will be hoping that to finally break their semi final jinx under Carlo Ancelotti. PSG is also looking strong; however, they will miss their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Manchester United and Chelsea are absent from this year’s UCL so all eyes will be on Manchester City and Arsenal to fight for English pride. Newcomers Leicester City can’t be overlooked after writing the greatest underdog story last season. Brace yourselves everyone, the UCL is back to amaze us.