Leicester shocked the world last year by winning the EPL title and now it is time to see what they can do in European competition against some of the best teams from the continent. Leicester has done a great job of keeping their best players-Vardy and Mahrez-with the club and not giving into the temptation of selling them. The sale of Kante, however; could potentially hurt The Foxes because he possessed great tackling and covered much of the midfield, as well as man marking the opposition’s best player. Leicester has added Ahmed Musa, who has already shown that he will be a great pick up for the club, along with Islam Slimani, who was an outstanding goal scorer for Sporting Lisbon. Unlike last year, Leicester’s true test will come from trying to balance Champions League, EPL and the other English tournaments that they participate in. No doubt their focus will be Champions League.
Porto was unlucky to not advance to the Round of 16 last year, as they came up just short by one point to Dynamo Kyiv. Porto’s ambition will be to get out of the group stage and then see what happens from there. Porto has lost Martins Indi and Aboubakar, among others this summer, but I feel that they have a good enough team to make a run at the top two spots in this group. Andre Silva will be heavily leaned on to provide the offense, while Herrera and Casillas bring much needed experience to the side.
Brugge has struggled in the early parts of this season, as they sit ninth in the Belgian league currently. The trouble for Brugge early on has been scoring goals-only five in their first six matches, so players like Vossen and Diaby will need to step up. Defensively, Club Brugge will need to be on top of their game. Discipline will be a key factor because collecting cards could be crucial once we get down to the last two matchdays.
Copenhagen got to the group stage by beating Cypriot side APOEL 2-1 on aggregate in the final playoff round. Santander scored a very late goal that avoided sending the tie to extra-time and ultimately penalties. Kvist and Hogli provide the Danish side with much needed experience, which should come in handy if Copenhagen are in position to close out a match late. Do not underestimate the two headed monster up from with Cornelius and Pavlovic-both players are off to good starts this season in the Danish league. Kusk and Falk have also done a great job of providing secondary scoring for the club.
This group could be wide open, in my opinion. Leicester City will for sure have nervous moments playing on the big stage, while Porto, as I mentioned, have lost some good players from last year, so keep an eye on how they bounce back. Brugge is in a position where they feel that they can go through because of how fairly contested the group is. And Copenhagen will look to sneak in as a surprise team. If I had to pick, I would take Leicester City and Copenhagen as my surprise team to go through.
Ogi is a graduate of Humber College’s Sport Management program. He is the founder of Blago Blogger Sports.