2013/2014 Champions League Preview

Michael Owen
Group A: Manchester United, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Sociedad
It is Manchester United’s group to lose.  Sure there are three quality opponents, but I just cannot see the Red Devils having trouble getting out alive. 
Second place will be a two, maybe even three team race.  The most crucial part for this group will be picking up maximum points at home, while trying to get a result in away fixtures.
Top two: Manchester United and Shakhtar Donetsk
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray and Copenhagen
The two clear cut favourites are without a doubt Real Madrid and Juventus. 
If Galatasaray has any chance at making it even close, they have to take all six points from Copenhagen and hope to get something, from either Madrid, or Juve.  With Sneijder and Drogba both staying, it gives the Turkish side some hope.
Top two: Juventus and Real Madrid
Group C: Benfica, PSG, Olympiacos and Anderlecht
Benfica has had a very tough start to the new season, while the other three teams have done much better.  Should we take anything out of this poor start? Perhaps.
PSG advancing is a no brainer (in my opinion), the other three teams will need to fight it out.  As I mentioned before, Benfica has one win in their first three games and one of those was a late comeback victory.  The Portuguese side, has six Serbians on the team, who all play on the national team, so it should not take them long to gel. 
Anderlecht is tough side, who always gives big clubs a run for their money, and the same can be said about Olympiacos, who have beaten teams like Arsenal and Benfica in the past.
Top two: PSG and Anderlecht
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City and Viktoria Plzen
I guess you can say Plzen is very unlucky to get a tough group such as this one. 
Bayern Munich are the class of this group, but they could see some competition from Manchester City and do not count out Russian giants CSKA Moscow, as they kept stars: Doumbia, Honda and Tosic.
I would not be astonished if CSKA Moscow did end up in second place, when it is all said and done, especially due to Manchester City’s very poor Champions League form.
Top two: Bayern Munich and Manchester City
Group E: Chelsea, Schalke, Basel and Steaua 
Chelsea is no doubt the favourite to win Group E, but they will be tested by Schalke and maybe even Basel, who have defeated English opposition in the past.
If Steaua can pick up valuable points at home, especially versus Basel and Schalke, they could be the surprise of this group, where I feel only Chelsea is certain to get through.
Top two: Chelsea and Schalke
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli   
I would not say that there is a “group of death” in this year’s Champions League, but this is probably the most level group in the competition.  I do not see a favourite in this group, and more importantly, three points will be hard to come by.  I feel this group will have the most ties.
The Ozil signing has put Arsenal on a good track, to go through in this group.  If he did not signing, I do not think I would have Arsenal advancing.
Some of the best young footballers are in this group as well.  Wilshere (Arsenal), Insigne (Napoli), Reus & Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund).
This will be the most fun and unpredictable group, if you ask me.
Top two: Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal
Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit and Austria Wien
This group is also a very level. 
Even though Atletico lost Falcao, they still have players who can do damage.  David Villa was a great signing, with the experience he has and the titles he has won in his career.  Courtois will be tough to beat; he is the best keeper in this group, if you ask me.
Porto is a very quality team, who makes the Champions League year in and year out.  Jackson Martinez has an incredible goals to games ratio, and teams will need to look out for him.  Porto sits first in the Portuguese league, with nine points from three games.
Zenit is still a powerhouse in the Russian league, but they have to start transferring that success at the Champions League level.  The likes of: Hulk, Witsel, Danny and Criscito will need to carry the team, while getting help from others.
I do not think Wien has any chance of getting by the group stage, especially when you take into consideration that they nearly lost to Croatian side Dinamo Zagreb.
Top two: Zenit and Atletico Madrid
Group H: Barcelona, AC Milan, Ajax and Celtic
Barcelona has seen all three of these teams at some point in the last three years or so.
Milan barely squeaked by Dutch side PSV Eindhoven and they did not look impressive at all.  Milan has two great strikers in Balotelli and El Shaarawy, but a very soft back four and the midfield play has not been up to par.  Hopefully the signing of club legend, Kaka will help the team out.
Ajax has lost players such as: Sulejmani, Eriksen and Alderweireld , who have been key contributors in the last three, or four years, so advancing past the group stage will be a big task.
Celtic barely made it to the group stage, after almost being upset by Kazakhstani side, Shakhtar Karagandy.  Celtic will need to play like they did last year, and even better, if they want to advance.
Top two: Barcelona and AC Milan  
 Ogi B

Author: Ogi

Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.

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