The Champions League returns for the 62nd season next week. So we thought it would be a good time to preview the group stage and give you a quick look at all of the teams, as well as something to watch for in each group.
Paris Saint-Germain (FRA), Arsenal (ENG), Basel (SWI), Ludogorets Razgard (BUL)
What to watch for: PSG is looking to take the next step in this competition, but they will need to advance to the second round. They should get pushed by Arsenal and Basel. Basel has been very tough for English opposition so watch out for that game. All three teams will want to win the group to avoid a top tier team in the round of 16.
Must Watch Game: PSG vs Arsenal on September 13th ~ A lot will be on the line right away for these two teams.
My Pick – Arsenal, PSG, Basel, Ludogorets
Brad’s Pick – Arsenal, PSG, Basel, Ludogorets
Benfica (POR), Napoli (ITA), Dynamo Kyiv (UKR), Besiktas (TUR)
What to watch for: This group seems very wide open. Benfica will be the favorites and if Napoli still had Higuain, I think this would be those two on top but now I am not so sure. No one will want to go to Istanbul or Kyiv this season.
Must Watch Game: Napoli vs. Benfica on September 28th ~ Will go a long way in deciding this group.
My Pick – Napoli, Dynamo Kyiv, Benfica, Besiktas
Brad’s Pick – Napoli, Benfica, Kyiv, Besiktas
Barcelona (ESP), Manchester City (ENG), Borussia Monchengladbach (GER), Celtic (SCO)
What to watch for: Pep Guardiola returning to face his former club has to be the story of this group. Barcelona will be clear favorites to advance, but can Pep pull one on his former club and win the group? Maybe we should be asking does City have enough to advance from the group, as Monchengladbach will be a tough out and Celtic Park will be a tough place to play.
Must Watch Game: Barcelona vs. Manchester City on October 19th ~ Pep’s 2nd return to Barcelona.
My Pick – Barcelona, Manchester City, Monchengladbach, Celtic
Brad’s Pick – Barcelona, Manchester City, Monchengladbach, Celtic
Bayern Munich (GER), Atletico Madrid (ESP), PSV Eindhoven (NED), Rostov (RUS)
What to watch for: This might be the group of death as three teams in this group advanced last year to the round of 16. Atletico Madrid went all the way to the final. Bayern Munich were defeated by Atletico Madrid in the semifinals and PSV Eindhoven lost to Atletico Madrid in the round of 16. There is a lot of recent history so it should provide for some fantastic football. Plus Rostov is similar to Leicester City in their quick rise to this level so no one knows what they will bring.
Must Watch Game: Bayern Munich vs. Atletico Madrid on December 6th ~ Can Bayern get revenge for last year?
My Pick – Bayern, Atletico, Rostov, PSV
Brad’s Pick – Bayern, Atletico, PSV, Rostov
CSKA Moscow (RUS), Bayer Leverkusen (GER), Tottenham Hotspur (ENG), Monaco (FRA)
What to watch for: This might be the most balanced group in the whole competition. I think any of these four teams could advance. It will be tough for each of them as they try to get one over on their competition. Tottenham is back after a 5 year absence.
Must Watch Game: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco on December 7th ~ Could be a decider in this group.
My Pick – Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco, Tottenham, CSKA Moscow
Brad’s Pick – Leverkusen, Tottenham, Monaco, CSKA Moscow
Real Madrid (ESP), Borussia Dortmund (GER), Sporting CP (POR), Legia Warsaw (POL)
What to watch for: Real Madrid won their 11th Champions League title last year. They will look to make it 12 this season and should easily advance from this group. Dortmund might be able to push them for the top spot, but I see both teams easily advancing.
Must Watch Game: Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund on September 27th ~ Clash for first place in the group.
My Pick – Real Madrid, Dortmund, Sporting, Legia
Brad’s Pick – Real Madrid, Dortmund, Sporting, Legia
Leicester City (ENG), Porto (POR), Club Brugge (BEL), Copenhagen (DEN)
What to watch for: Leicester City is the team to watch in this group. They have made it to the big time after a fantastic season last year. The question now is can they replicate that form in Europe. They have a chance to make the knockout stages in what is a fairly tame group. None of these teams will be major threats to the big boys later in the competition.
Must Watch Game: Leicester City vs. Porto on September 27th ~ their first home game in Europe.
My Pick – Porto, Leicester City, Copenhagen, Brugge
Brad’s Pick – Porto, Leicester, Brugge, Copenhagen
Juventus (ITA), Sevila (ESP), Lyon (FRA), Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
What to watch for: Juventus has their eyes on one prize this season, the Champions League. They will need to be at their best as they have a tough group. Lyon will look for a better showing this season and has looked fantastic so far. Sevilla are the kings of the Europa League, but I think they would rather give it a go at the Champions League knockout stages.
Must Watch Game: Lyon vs. Sevilla on December 7th ~ This game could decide who goes to the Champions League knockout stages and who goes to the Europa League.
My Pick – Juventus, Lyon, Sevilla, Dinamo Zagreb
Brad’s Pick – Juventus, Lyon, Sevilla, Dinamo Zagreb