The reigning champions will of course be looking to repeat, as any team of Real Madrid’s stature would. Madrid’s main man, Ronaldo is back, like the team will actually need him with the talent that they can put out. Bale and Benzema will be relied on heavily to carry the workload as CR7 gets back into shape. Also look out for youngster Marco Asensio, who is making a name for himself and rather quickly. At the back Pepe has gotten better with age and has calmed down mightily in the last year or so. Ramos is still a workhorse, while Marcelo and Carvajal get forward on the wings. Modric and Kroos are the two stoppers in midfield, who organize attacks for the Blancos.
Borussia Dortmund has done a tremendous job of acquiring talented players this summer to make a run at the Bundesliga title, but also to be a force in Champions League. Gotze is back, Pulisic is developing into a fantastic footballer and Aubameyang continues to strike fear into the opposition. Baring no major injuries for a long period of time, Dortmund should be able to get through this group as the second place team.
The last time Sporting made Champions League was back in the 2014-2015 season, when they finished third in their group, behind Chelsea and Schalke, respectively. In that season, Sporting conceded 12 goals, while scoring the same amount-if they have any chance at getting out of the group this time, they will have to keep their goals against down. With the sale of Slimani to Leicester City, Sporting now needs to find a new talisman that can lead the team and score clutch goals.
This is four years in a row now that Legia has made it to at least the group stage of European competition. They will be in tough this time, no doubt about that, but similar to the other “minnows” in the group stage, if Legia can capitalize on opportunities that are presented to them and then keep the big guys from scoring, they can at least pull out third in this group and fight in the Europa League competition. Nemanja Nikolic is a tough customer up front for defenders to deal with, so keep an eye on him. As for getting past the group stage, I will give Legia a 15% chance.
You would have to think that Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund are the favourites to advance here, but do not be shocked if Sporting comes out strong in their two matches vs the German side, as they know they will need as many points as possible to advance. Even with Cristiano Ronaldo getting back into the swing of things, Real Madrid should do just fine. Legia and Sporting will probably battle for third, while Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund go through.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.