Alright people it is almost here…
THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
September 17th can not get here soon enough as the Champion’s League group stages are opening up next week. After that joke of a final that left a very MEH taste in footy fans mouths we are finally back. We have some new faces to the competition, we have some old faces that got a little bit of a revival, and of course all the big dogs that we expect to see in the competition. So for right now let’s just break down exactly what we have in store for the group stages.
Group A (Real Madrid, PSG, Galatasaray, Club Brugge)
Now group A is immediately interesting because it has Real Madrid and PSG in the group. The other two names are clubs that are most definitely smaller than PSG and Madrid, BUT they are also known to never give people anything easy. I think the clear winners of this group are PSG and Real Madrid, but going into Turkey and coming out with points against Galatasaray is a tall task, as well as traveling to Belgium where Brugge is looking to finally make it out of the group stages. Well keep waiting Brugge I hope Hovrath gets some tick. PSG and Madrid are looking at a whole bunch of injuries, but also got the money for ridiculous depth.
1st – Madrid
2nd – PSG
Group B (Bayern, Tottenham,Olympiacos, Crvena Zvezda)
Alright so group B much like group A gets interesting because immediately you see Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspurs two teams that I believe they have a very similar style due to the fact that their main men are their number 9s. These other two teams honestly I don’t think have a shot in hell unless Tottenham do something #Spursy. Going to Greece to get points off Olympiacos isn’t going to be a cake walk as well as going all the way into Serbia. However I do not see Bayern dropping any points at home, and I am sure Pochettino can figure his way around getting some points away. This groups away matches for the big dogs I think will be interesting, but really I am just looking to see Bayern travel to England and see what Bayern we are gonna watch this year.
1st – Bayern Munich
2nd – Tottenham Hotspurs
Group C (Man City, Shakhtar, Atalanta, Dinamo Zagreb)
Now I don’t want to offend anybody but….. this group is an absolute joke. If you are a Man City supporter you are even upset at how easy of a group you got because now you are going to be hearing sh*t from everyone else. Also you now can’t complain about your UCL draw for like the next 3-5 years. This group is really just a race for 2nd place, because the only issues City should face is getting all 3 points when they travel to Croatia, or Ukraine. The real team that I am hoping surprise everyone is Atalanta, they had a great year in Italy last year, and bolstered their side with more depth. I am hoping those additions make them ready to play the extra games this year.
1st – Man City
2nd – Atalanta
Group D (Juventus, Atletico, Leverkusen, Lokomotiv)
This group has me very excited I actually see this as one of the potential group of deaths. Now I am saying that but I am also going to pick the same 2 that everyone else is probably going to pick. BUT do not sleep on Leverkusen, they lost Brandt, but they made some very good signings, they have the welcome party of Kai Havertz and Leon Bailey in the UCL. I think Leverkusen are going to surprise a lot of people this year because of that back line. They are in a group that is focused on defense with Juve and Atleti so they gotta bring it. Lokomotiv also adds a nice little bump in the road because going into Moscow and coming out with points is usually easier said than done.
1st – Juventus (Its Ronaldo…)
2nd – Atletico (Its Ronaldo Jr…)
Group E (Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk)
This is another very solid group, I know the english fans saw Napoli last year so that is who they are worried about, but make sure you also keep an eye on Salzburg. They play in a league they absolutely dominate, and they still get their reps in against the german sides as well. Napoli I think are going to be the real team to beat here since they have some new faces that could be game changers with the arrival of Lozano, and Manolas. Manolas knows the UCL very well *Insert clip of Game winner against Barca* I think the addition of Manolas solidifies that back line even more. Liverpool are the defending champions but with no new additions they are relying on the same men and boss that brought them to glory last year. I think that a few injuries could really hinder Liverpool since they were the team everyone was watching and everyone is going to be trying to beat. Not to mention the title race they will have with City again.
1st – Napoli
2nd – Liverpool
Group F (Barcelona,Dortmund,Inter,Slavia Praha)
Now people are also calling this the group of death, but I honestly think group D is going to be more interesting. Inter brought in new signings and got rid of the so called “poison” but to me they still didn’t improve that much. Icardi > Lukaku. Barcelona are Barcelona they are going to come in and do their thing, Messi when he returns healthy is going to have his way like he always does. Dortmund have a lot to prove this year after bombing last year against Spurs. Also Slavia Praha I am not even going to pretend to know anything about them, but they have just got to be the most unlucky team in the draw. I think Inter are going to have a very hard time winning away from home which is going to be huge if they want any shot of staying out of Europa league.
1st – Barcelona
2nd – Dortmund
Group G (Zenit,Benefica,Lyon,Leipzig)
Now this group is usually where you see a big dog some how slip into it and just know they are going to dominate (Kinda like City’s Draw). That didn’t happen this year granted two of these teams are my favorites in their respective countries so no disrespect but this group is going to be a very competitive one. Zenit is one of the hardest stadiums to go into and get points which gives them an immediate advantage cause then it is a game of scraping by and hoping the other teams blow it. Lyon is my favorite for this group just because they always have so much young talent it is just awesome to see in the UCL. Also this year Leipzig have made some incredible signings that I think make them a contender in the league against Bayern. I am interested to see how Leipzig balances the UCL and a title race. Also do not sleep on Benefica an extremely hard stadium to play in, and a team that competes year in and year out. Not to mention they are sitting on HELLA CASH from the Joao Felix deal. I think this group is going to be the most exciting to watch with the crazy amount of UCL debuts, and rising stars from the majority of clubs.
1st – Leipzig
2nd – Lyon
Group H (Chelsea, Ajax,Valencia,Lille)
This right here is what I call a group of death. A group where every single side has reasons why they could win out the group. A group where you have no idea who is going to show up one day, could be an old star, could be a young rising talent, it could be anything with all these clubs. I like to call this the American group as well since there will be Pulisic,Weah, and Dest. Chelsea are relying heavily on young talent and the mind of Chelsea legend Lampard. Ajax are relying on their ranks of youth talent, and of course the veterans Blind, Tadic, and Huntelaar. Valencia are relying on their new goalie Cillessen from Barca, their midfield maestro Parejo, and their youth going forward. Goncalo Guedes is going to be the man to watch for that Valencia offense. Lille I think may be the weakest team in the group, but it is not by much and they still have brought in enough potential talent to surprise people. After letting Pepe go to Arsenal and Leao to Milan Lille are going to rely heavily on youth, their new signings, and that back line. Either way you look at it this group is going to be LIT.
1st – Valencia
2nd – Chelsea
So there you have it folks the group stages and their winners, 100% correct, bet on it, take out a loan, throw your retirement on it. Young Leg has never steered you wrong before.
Written By: Anthony “Young Leg” Shopa (@Shopaaj)