UEFA Champions League 2018/19: Predicting the teams that will head to the round of 16.
Last year's Champion's league season delivered an array of surprises, tears and sealed the future of European football. With Liverpool situating themselves in the finals against Real Madrid, to AS Roma's miraculous victory against the mighty FC Barcelona, the season was considered as a 'masterpiece' for the world of football. However, last season is long gone and the gateways to a new year in the tournament are open. With UEFA making the draws a new season, the groups have now been decided and it is pretty obvious that this year won't be a piece of cake for any of the sides.
The stage is set for the teams. The@ knockout stage, however, is a long way to go. Which of these mighty European giants will make their place permanent in the Round of 16? Here are our predictions for the group winners and the runner-ups.
Teams: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Club Brugge, AS Monaco
Group Winner: Atletico Madrid (Spain)
Group Runner-ups: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
The group that hands out the most suspicious element, Group A is ready to fire its cannons, with four of the most uprising teams in the past five years. With two winners and 3 runner-ups, this group is probably one of the most obvious in terms of results.
With Atletico Madrid looking stronger than ever, Diego Simeone's side is surely the winners of this group having a 'bad to the bone' squad with some of the top players in the world, they are sure to get all the required points of the group in order to top it. However, their performance in the league and domestic levels haven't really been up to the mark, which means that their first fixture against an uprising Monaco side could decide their ranking.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, is likely to finish second in the group, as their league performance and a star-studded attacking lineup will help them through the hurdles; Given that their first fixture against a much weaker Brugge squad will earn them the points, their next matches against both Monaco and Atletico Madrid can be a turning point. In addition, the former Bundesliga winners can face tough competition against AS Monaco, as they too are the contenders for a runner-up position.
Teams: Tottenham Hotspur, FC Barcelona, Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven
Group Winner: FC Barcelona
Group Runner-ups: Tottenham Hotspur
A pure 'Group of Death' comprising of the most exciting Champions League fixtures. With the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and FC Barcelona as well as Inter Milan, this group has the ability to be the most dramatic, exhilarating and full of questions. FC Barcelona is likely to finish on the top of the table, as their newly furbished squad comprising of Luis Suarez, Phillipe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic and course, Lionel Messi isn't just a force to be reckoned with, but are also the likely contenders to win the tournament.
Internazionale, or Inter Milan as most people call them, look extremely strong with the likes of Radja Niangollan, Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi. The Italian side however, haven't really been the top compatriots in the last few years of this tournament, which simply means that Spurs are the true contenders of the runner-up spot, given that their ongoing winning run in the Premier League and the tactical necessities their team holds is evidence to the fact that they can as well be on the top of the group. Although things can go south as they take on Inter in their very first fixture and later they face the potential group leaders Barcelona, giving them very less opportunity to top the table.
PSV, on the other hand, doesn't quite seem to fit well into the equation of this group, but they too can fight and take the third spot.
Teams: Liverpool FC, Paris Saint Germain, FK Crvenza Zveda, Napoli
Group Winners: Liverpool (England)
Group Runner-ups: Paris Saint Germain (France)
Last year's runners-up of the tournament Liverpool FC look to be in spectacular league form as Klopp's side top the Premier League table, and a newly-formed midfield trio looks to be in shape. The likes of Mane, Firmino and Salah show the possible winners of this group, PSG would seriously have a tough time competing against the Reds. The French powerhouse have three of the best forwards in the form of Mbappe, Neymar Jr. and of course the Uruguayan Edison Cavani, so the Liverpool defence could shake away in just a single attacking blow as they face-off in their very first fixture.
Liverpool have a more balanced side in terms of defence and offence, which makes them the likely contenders to top the group of death
Napoli were one of our predictions to be the possible runners-up of this groups, after all they are one of the most underrated teams in the world. The fact is they don't have a lineup that can truly strike fear in the hearts of this 'group of death'. The only team that they can have a chance against is FK Crvenza, leaving them finishing in third position.
Teams: FC Porto, FC Schalke, FC Lokomotiv Moskva, Galatasaray A.S
Group Winners: FC Porto
Group Runner-ups: FC Schalke
Pretty straightforward for FC Porto as their side seems to be the most competitive in this group, with FC Schalke being one of the only proper rivals for their side, the Portuguese giants have what it takes to reach the round of 16.
Schalke, on the other hand, seem to be a lot less balanced than their fellow Portuguese competitors and can fall apart as Galatasaray too cannot truly be underestimated. As the Turkish side go up against a much fragile Lokomotiv Moskva, they can pull the momentum down for the German powerhouse, but can they really take down FC Porto to top the group?
Teams: FC Bayern Munchen, AEK Athens FC, AFC Ajax, SL Benfica
Group Winners: FC Bayern Munchen (Germany)
Group Runner-ups: AFC Ajax (Netherlands)
Most say that FC Bayern were 'gifted' this group, as they look to top the most one-sided groups in the tournament. With the likes of James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller, it is pretty easy to say that they, without a shadow of a doubt are going to be topping this group with flying colours.
On the other hand, the real contest will be between AFC Ajax and SL Benfica, as the Dutch and the Portuguese side have been on their A-game in their respective leagues. The Runner-up position isn't a going to be a stroll, with AEK Athens contending, although they too lack the chance against the three giants.
Ajax is easily the runner-up of this group as their performance speaks for itself.
Teams: Manchester City, Lyon, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim,
Group Winners: Manchester City (England)
Group Runner-ups: Lyon (France)
A group that has the ability to surprise everybody. With Manchester City being the true powerhouse in the group, they could be knocked down by the likes of Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon. But with the cards in their hands, and a manager who has won this competition more than just once, they are the giants who will top this group. Along with that, they hold the capability of winning this tournament, even though they failed to do so last year.
Lyon, on the other hand, will face a tough contest from Shakhtar as the Ukrainian side will set itself beyond all expectations. However, with the French side having the better set of talents and world cup winners on their side, they are the runners-up of this particular group without a shadow of a doubt. Although, it won't be child's play.
Teams: Real Madrid, AS Roma, Viktoria Plzen, CSKA Moskva
Group Winners: Real Madrid (Spain)
Group Runner-ups: AS Roma (Italy)
Semi-finalists in last year's competition AS Roma are looking for redemption. They hold the possibility of being the top guns of European football, and as the fire ignites they move into the group stages with no fear at all.
The runners-up of this group, however isn't really that obvious as CSKA Moskva looks forward to offering tougher than ever challenge to the Italian side. It would definitely be hard for Roma but they won't shy away from the fact that they are the favourites for runners-up.
Now though they are confronted with their biggest challenge and the winners of last year's Champions League, Real Madrid on their very first matchday. Truth be told, they surprisingly hold a good chance against the Spanish giants, as the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo shattered some of their confidence. Madrid being a more balanced and younger squad, are the obvious winners and are likely to top the group. Since Luka Modric has decided to stay, it will not just get difficult for Roma, but also for Viktoria Plzen and CSKA.
Teams: Juventus, Valencia, BSC Young Boys, Manchester United
Group Winners: Juventus
Group Runner-ups: Valencia
The last group of this tournament, and yet another 'group of death', this particular set of teams offers a varied range of possibilities. With Manchester United having what it takes to win the tournament yet failing in the simplest of challenges offered to them, they will need to get back up. Their first fixture against the BSC Young Boys could be an opportunity but their current run in the league could drastically hinder their intentions of going past the group stage.
Valencia, on the other hand, seems to be carrying the composure and the commitment that their young squad has. With nothing to lose, the Spanish giants are set to raise the bar against both Juve and Man United, earning them an easy runner-up spot towards the knockout stages.
Juventus now hold the most successful and decorated player in the tournament's history. With a mindblowing midfield and an attack full of superstars, Cristiano Ronaldo isn't too far away from Real Madrid. They not only hold the capability to top the group but also winning the tournament. Knockout stages are far away, but they are sure to progress with all the points in their hands.
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