Juve said goodbye to Pogba, Morata, Isla and Pereyra along with others, but the team quickly turned around and replaced those players. Higuain came with a huge price tag and anything but a superb performance in the Champions League will be a complete let down. Pjanic was brought in to distribute the ball and get players such as Dybala and Higuain involved as much as possible. The backline pretty much stays the same-if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Juve has won the league five times running now and they will now, more than ever, shift their focus to winning the Champions League, something the team has not done since the 1995/1996 season.
Sevilla had a tough summer as they sold a number of talented players who made the team tick defensively and offensively. The team will miss the goal scoring that Gameiro provided, without a doubt. Banega was a quality midfielder and Krychowiak was an outstanding shut down defensive midfielder. Ben Yedder has been brought in to replace Gameiro and with his scoring prowess, he should be able to do just that for Sevilla. Nasri is on loan and Sampaoli will look for the Frenchman to make a difference in the final third with his vision and the ability to score goals. A lot will be expected from Brazilian, Ganso, too. Even though Sevilla has lost some key players this summer, they should still be able to fight for one of the two spots in this group.
Lyon failed to make the Round of 16 last year, which was a disappointment for them, seeing as the group did not have a real powerhouse team. Lacazette, Lacazette, Lacazette-the most dangerous player in French football will need to be marked very closely by the opposition because of his nose for goal. If you can shut him down, you probably have a pretty good chance at beating Lyon. That being said, Fekir (another very talented Lyon striker) will need to make an impact, as well. If he and Lacazette can click, Lyon could progress through. The backline has some experience, but they did concede four goals to Dijon in the French league this season.
It was nothing but business for Dinamo Zagreb this summer as usual. They sold their two prized pieces-Marko Rog (Napoli) and Marko Pjaca (Juventus) to two Italian giants. By no means does this mean that Dinamo are throwing in the white towel because they still have dangerous players on their team. 19 year old Coric is coming into his own, as he is being targeted by some of the biggest European clubs. Junior Fernandes and Soudani have been great in both the league and Champions League qualifying, which the team will need them to continue doing. With the sale of Eduardo to Chelsea, the one position of weakness could potentially be the goalkeeper. If Dinamo can get some good results in their first two or three games, they could be a scary team going forward with confidence.
Juventus should take first in this group and breeze through the competition, however; I think the other three teams will be fighting for second. Sevilla, as I already mentioned, sold quite a few of their players this summer and I do not know if they added enough to get them through. Lyon is a very hot and cold team. They can go out and beat the best of the best and then lose to a bottom of the table team. Dinamo for a few years now has focused more on Champions League and less on their domestic league, a league that they have won 11 years in a row. The second team I will take going through will be Lyon because of the Lacazette factor. Apart from the Juve backline, I cannot see the other two teams slowing him down.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.