The group stage draw for the UEFA Champions League 2017/18 season is done. Some interesting groups have been made with Group H being touted as the “Group of Death.” English teams, barring Tottenham have got a favourable draw with all big hitters of Europe having straight-forward groups to get through apart from Real Madrid. We review each group one by one and the prospects of who will possibly go through into the knockouts.
Group A: –
- Manchester United
- FC Basel
- CSKA Moscow
The big-hitters in this group are Manchester United and Benfica. But, counting out Basel and CSKA Moscow would be a mistake in all honesty. Given the fact that United are good defensively, I doubt whether the other three teams will be able to stop the Red Devils from topping this group. Benfica have some good talent and will test the other teams at their home ground.
FC Basel have been constant participants in the group stage of this competition in recent years. But, getting past this group will be a good challenge for them. Their record against English teams is good enough to give Mourinho’s men a headache. CSKA Moscow are this group’s underdogs, sometimes a trip to Russia can be tricky but I don’t see them getting through even though this is the best draw for them.
Predictions – Manchester United and Benfica to go through, Basel to finish third.
Group B: –
- Bayern Munich
- Paris Saint-Germain
Well, as far as straight-forward groups are concerned, this is one of them. Bayern Munich and PSG won’t get a better group to go through. With full respect to Anderlecht and Celtic, I don’t see anyone of them competing against the Europe’s elite. It will be a competition between those two big-hitters on who will top the group.
PSG have strengthened themselves massively with the signings and are expected to topple Bayern. The Bavarians are equally good but there are some areas where they are short of being Europe’s best. Celtic have a good home form, they have to use that to try and finish third and play the Europa League which will be good for their reputation. Anderlecht, on the other hand, have a tall order to even finish third.
Predictions: – Bayern and PSG to go through, Celtic to finish third.
Group C: –
- Atletico Madrid
- AS Roma
The Diego Costa-derby is on the cards here. Atletico and Chelsea will face off with the striker watching it with keen interest. Even though Chelsea have a thinner squad, I expect them to compete against Atleti. Roma are no pushovers either which makes this group pretty interesting. Enticing affairs awaits in this group.
Qarabag are the underdogs in this group and are expected to be last. It will be a surprise if any of the other three finish third but as is the case, one has to drop out and on current situation, it seems Roma may miss out with their wobbly away record. Chelsea and Atleti generally have a good home record to boast.
Predictions: – Chelsea and Atletico to go through, Roma to finish third.
Group D: –
- Sporting CP
Another one of those straight-forward groups for the big-hitters. Even though Olympiacos are Greek champions, I don’t see them challenging the likes of Juventus and Barcelona. Sporting are without a doubt, the underdogs here with plenty of things to do if they even want to finish third.
With the Catalans wobbling in the transfer market and Juventus having a better team overall, I expect the Old Lady to top this group. You can’t write off the Spanish giants but the current situation in the club isn’t healthy for them to topple the Italians in both legs. Olympiacos might stay in Europe by playing Europa League.
Predictions: – Juventus and Barcelona to go through, Olympiacos to finish third.
Group E: –
- Spartak Moscow
This is one group Liverpool fans were hoping for. It is a tricky one with trips to Russia and Sevilla never easy. But, their home record and attacking prowess will be good enough to make them go through this round. Sevilla, on the other hand, are good at home but their struggling away record against top clubs isn’t great, which means they have to be perfect at home.
Spartak Moscow are one talented team, it will be a good test for them though against the likes of Liverpool and Sevilla. I expect them to challenge but only finish third in the group. Maribor for sure are the underdogs in this group. The Slovenians will have a good exposure playing in stadiums like Anfield and Sevilla.
Prediction: – Sevilla and Liverpool to go through, Spartak Moscow to finish third.
Group F: –
- Shakhtar Donetsk
- Manchester City
This is one tricky group with some talented teams like Man City, Napoli and Shakhtar fighting it out. Feyenoord are Dutch champions and can’t be counted out very easily. It is one of those tricky groups where home form will ultimately define whether a team will go through or not.
With City’s potent attack, it is expected that Pep’s men will have enough to go through. Napoli are a very good team with equal competition from Shakhtar and Feyenoord. But, the Italians will be good enough to withstand that and go through. Shakhtar are good but only good enough to play the Europa League.
Prediction: – Napoli and Manchester City to go through, Shakhtar to finish third.
Group G: –
- AS Monaco
- FC Porto
- RB Leipzig
This is another tricky group with Monaco weakening their squad by selling, Porto and Leipzig being good enough to topple any team on their day. Besiktas might be the underdogs but counting them out will be a mistake. I just expect Monaco to be good enough to top this group regardless of their wobbly transfer business.
It will be a good competition between Porto and Leipzig but the Germans will struggle against the regular participants of this competition. Besiktas have a decent team but not good enough to breakthrough the group stages. It is an interesting group with few unknowns, hard to pick out any 4th place team. But, the Turkish side will fall short eventually.
Prediction: – Monaco and Porto to go through, Leipzig to finish third.
Group H: –
- Real Madrid
- Borussia Dortmund
- Tottenham Hotspur
- APOEL Nicosia
This is for sure the “group of death.” We all expect Tottenham to relinquish their Wembley hoodoo and be a force this season. Real Madrid are too good at the moment but they will be tested to the fullest by some of the better teams. Dortmund are powerful too with their fantastic record in this competition in recent years.
The defending champions will top the group regardless of the competition. It will come down to whether Tottenham can win against Dortmund and make their defence count in big away games. APOEL are the underdogs here and are easily the 4th ranked team here. Despite all the permutations, Dortmund are well placed to join Real in going through to the knockouts.
Prediction: – Real Madrid and Dortmund to go through, Tottenham to finish third.
Despite the predictions, it is very tight in each group. The Champions League will be an interesting watch as always and we expect some tight contests with last match-days being used for deciding the qualifiers from each group.