UEFA Champions League 2019/20 | Group C analysis and prediction
The 2019-20 Champions League is just around the corner, with the first set of games of the group stages set to begin on the 17th and 18th of September. Akin to many a time before, this season's competition promises to be as entertaining and engaging as any.
As usual, a few clubs brought in fresh faces over the course of the transfer window while some new managerial appointments have also contributed to a slight change in the landscape. Thus, one can expect a UCL season that will long live in memory.
32 clubs will enter the battlefield and stake their claim for the ultimate prize. However, come May 2020, only one will be crowned the Kings of Europe.
Here, we take a look at one of the groups that were formed at the end of the group stage draw held in Monaco last month and analyse what lies in store in group C.
Best finish in the Champions League - Semi finals (2015-16)
Player to watch out for - Raheem Sterling
Best finish in the Champions League - Group Stages
Player to watch out for - Dani Olmo
Best finish in the Champions League - Debut season in the competition
Player to watch out for - Duvan Zapata
Best finish in the Champions League - Quarter Finals (2010-11)
Player to watch out for - Tete
Interesting facts you need to know
Atalanta will be making their debut in the Champions League, whereas Dinamo Zagreb have never advanced past the group stages.
When this group was made, the initial reactions of every fan around the world were the same: yet another easy group for Manchester City. With no disrespect to the clubs involved, it would take a herculean effort for the other teams to topple the Cityzens off the perch of the group standings.
Pep Guardiola's men have started the Premier League season on fire and star players such as Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, and Kevin De Bruyne already look primed to destroy any opposition that comes their way.
City's squad seems too strong for the likes of Shakhtar, Dinamo Zagreb or Atalanta. Moreover, Guardiola will be desperate to win his first Champions League title since leaving Barcelona and the current term could represent his best opportunity to do so.
While the English side are outright favourites to win the group, the same can't be said of the potential runners-up. However, on paper, Shakhtar look the likeliest to finish behind City.
The current Ukrainian champions failed to advance from last season's group stages but they have a talented squad, who are coming off a successful season, wherein they clinched their 12th league title. So far this year, Shakhtar have won all their league games and sit comfortably at the top with 18 points.
Dinamo Zagreb, meanwhile have won 13 of the last 14 league titles in Croatia. However, they have accumulated only four points from their last 18 Champions League games. The aforementioned statistic leads one to conclude that domination in the leagues outside Europe's elite league counts for little in the Champions League.
Although the club will aim to better that record this season, it would require some absolutely brilliant football for them to get out of this group.
As for Atalanta, the Italian outfit had a sensational 2018-19 league season, which helped them clinch their first ever Champions League spot. Finishing third in Serie A last year, the team will be happy to have drawn this group, wherein they have a good chance for advancing further.
However, their lack of Champions League experience could prove to be a hindrance in the crunch games. Despite that, it would be wrong to discard their bid for further qualification and their matches with Shakhtar should be interesting.
Manchester City and Shakhtar Donetsk
It is a close call between Shakhtar and Atalanta, but the club from Ukraine enjoys slight edge due to their experience in the Champions League. All in all, one can expect to see some exceptional performances from Manchester City as they look to set the tone early this season.
With regards to the battle for second place, one just feels it could go down to the wire between Shakhtar and Atalanta.
Published 10 Sep 2019, 13:19 IST