Editorial (September 1, 2018) – The 2018/19 UEFA Champions League will be exciting as usual, and in the group stage some were lucky, but others have tough battles ahead in this upcoming season.
Champions League Group Stage: Lucky Ones, Hardest Groups, and More!
As the group stage begins on September 18, here’s the analysis for Europe’s top club competition first round:
- Teams: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Club Brugge.
It is not an easy group for anyone but Atletico Madrid will ultimately prevail. Dortmund and Monaco might have to play for the second spot while Brugge will need some luck to advance.
In fact, this season the final will be at Atletico’s home Wanda Metropolitano, so the Madrilian club has an extra motivation.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid and Monaco will advance to the Round of 16; Dortmund headed to the Europa League as the third place.
- Teams: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan.
Widely regarded as the toughest group this season indeed, there are many reasons why this is the best groups.
Barcelona and Tottenham might have the favoritism, but don’t sleep on PSV and Inter.
Dutch champions PSV proved in the previous phase they are here to compete. They trust in the Mexican International goalscorer Hirving Lozano to make it to the Round of 16.
On the other hand, Inter Milan return to the competition after four long years; the 2009/10 champions have a great roster to face a hard group. The Serie A’s top scorer Mauro Icardi and his fellow Argentinean Lautaro Martinez are ready to the challenge.
However, Barcelona is looking for redemption after being eliminated in the Quarterfinals for three straight years. This has to be Messi’s season, which includes dethroning Real Madrid.
Tottenham is also on a mission after the disappointment elimination last season against Juventus. They have the same team, the same manager, this is their chance.
Prediction: Barcelona and Tottenham will advance; Inter Milan to Europa League.
- Teams: Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade.
Don’t be surprised if something unusual happens in this group.
These will be the best matchups after Group B, it is not certain who will advance but the emotions will be for sure.
Liverpool has a slight edge because they are the runners-up, though, look at what Napoli can do as well with Carlos Ancelotti as their new manager.
Of course, it is time for PSG to have the run their fans have hoped for seasons; yet, this will be a test for the French club to see if they can finally make the breakthrough.
Anyhow, all the odds are against Belgrade, and even if sports is sometimes unpredictable, the Serbian team is too far away to qualify to the next round.
Prediction: Liverpool and Napoli will advance; PSG to Europa League.
- Teams: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke 04, Galatasaray.
If there’s one group that anyone doesn’t have a precise prediction, it this.
The four teams have equal chances although Porto seems to be the strongest one. What’s more interesting about this draw is the fact this group is not the most exciting to watch, just true football lovers will enjoy this clashes.
Bundesliga runners-up Schalke 04 looks strong too, but Galatasaray and Lokomotiv are rivals to have in mind too.
Prediction: Porto and Galatasaray will advance; Schalke 04 to Europa League.
- Teams: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens
It appears to be a not so arduous path for Bayern even though Benfica is right there.
Ajax can battle as well though it’s not certain what the Dutch club can do against two giants.
Athens qualified to the group stage in play-off round as the Greek league champions but still will be difficult for them as the German champions Bayern have everything to take the group.
Prediction: Bayern and Benfica will advance; Ajax to Europa League.
- Teams: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, 1899 Hoffenheim.
English champions Manchester City has all in hands to pass to the Round of 16 for the sixth season in a row.
This group seems attractive as Shakhtar and Lyon could fight for the second spot as Hoffenheim looks close.
Lyon will play the tournament without his best man last season Mariano Diaz, who returned to Real Madrid after two years in France’s Ligue 1.
Prediction: Man City and Shakhtar will advance; Lyon to Europa League.
- Teams: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzeň.
Two of last season’s semifinalist will face each other while Moscow and Plzeň eyes for a miracle.
Madrid holds the title after winning three times in a row and four of the last five. It is unexpected the Spanish team have problems in the group stage.
Roma can make the same run as last season or further if they left all on the pitch.
Prediction: Real Madrid and Roma will advance; CSKA Moscow to Europa League.
- Teams: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys.
What a great group.
Cristiano Ronaldo will come back to his former house in a different jersey this time as Juventus might top the group.
Man United is not in a great form right now and last season the English were shocked by Sevilla in the Round of 16.
Jose Mourinho has to do something in order to avoid embarrassment once again.
Juventus has won the Serie A for the last seven years but that is not enough for them as the Italians have lost the last five European finals they have participated.
Valencia is not always a major rival but can make the surprise of the group stage. Better take care of the Spanish.
The Swiss champions Young Boys are not supposed to be there but they made it to the group stage.
Prediction: Juventus and Valencia will advance; Man United to Europa League.