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UEFA Champions League draw 18/19

On Thursday, in Monaco, was held the 2018-19 Champions League group stage draw. As expected before the ceremony, strong teams will be going head to head. Let’s assess all the groups in order and do a short preview for all of them.

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Club Brugge

This group is an interesting one to start. Different cultures, different styles. Atletico is the clear favourite, but need to handle the attacking style of Lucien Favre’s Dortmund and the fast, counter-attacking style of Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco. Interesting to see Radamel Falcao against the club he became famous and Thomas Lemar against the team from the principality. Club Brugge is seen as inferior in paper, but could do the surprise.

My prediction: 1. Atletico Madrid, 2. Borussia Dortmund Group

Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV, Inter

The strongest and most competitive group along with group C. 3 teams that have previously won ‘The Treble.’ Certainly will be a group to watch. A hard group for the Italians in paper, as expected from the fact they were in Pot 4, but the past history may help them. Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona are the favourites to finish 1st, anyway with a group consisting Tottenham and Inter, who produced a lot of goals between each other in 2010-11, nothing is for sure.

My prediction: 1. Barcelona, 2. Tottenham

Group C: PSG, Napoli, Liverpool, Crvena Zvezda

The strongest group along with group B. Thomas Tuchel will re-face again his Dortmund predecessor, Jurgen Klopp, both managers known for the use of ‘Gegenpressing’ or ‘Counter pressing’, translated in English. On the other side, we have an interesting Napoli of Carlo Ancelotti, that makes this group even more complicated and tough. Crvena Zvezda may be inferior on paper, but will certainly create a hostile environment for any of their three opponents.

My prediction: 1. PSG, 2. Liverpool

Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray

Group D on paper perhaps won’t get pulses racing however it certainly will guarantee entertainment. I think there will be a ‘jungle war’ here, something that will be decided only in the end. The fact that they are the Russian champions may help Lokomotiv, while experience, German talent and crazy fans can be a good weapon for Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray respectively.

My prediction: 1.Schalke, 2. Porto

Group E: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK

This seems maybe the easiest group a Pot 1 team could have got. Bayern will surely expect to top the group whilst Benfica and are likely to battle for the runners-up spot, with the Portuguese team looking more likely to pass at the moment. Renato Sanches will certainly have eyes on him, it’s a big opportunity for the young man to show Bayern and everyone else for that matter exactly what he’s about.

My prediction: 1. Bayern Munich, 2. Benfica

Group F: Man City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim

Pep Guardiola’s Man City are of course the favourites, but there will be a strong fight here. Very difficult to predict second place, knowing that the other teams have similar level, 3 proactive teams with managers like Paulo Fonseca, Bruno Genesio and Julian Nagelsmann. It will be very tough.

My prediction: 1. Man City, 2. Hoffenheim

Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen

A comfortable group for Real Madrid, with Roma being a team that has proved to be a tough cookie for big teams too, so wouldn’t be surprised if they top the group again, but don’t think this is likely. CSKA shouldn’t be underestimated, but Aleksander Golovin’s departure is for sure a blow. Don’t think Plzen can finish higher than last place.

My prediction: 1. Real Madrid, 2. Roma

Group H: Juventus, Man United, Valencia, Young Boys

This is a group you should keep an eye on until the end. Juventus vs Manchester United means that Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba will face their former clubs respectively. Also, Joao Cancelo will face the team where he developed a lot, Valencia, which is a ‘bad nuisance’ at a group where the team from Torino and Manchester seem to be the favourites on paper. On the other side, a surprise from the talents of Young Boys should be taken in consideration.

My prediction: 1. Juventus, 2. Manchester United

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