Group Stage Predictions for Groups A-D in the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League

Group Stage Predictions for Groups A-D in the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League

Two days after the draw, and two and a half weeks away from the start of the competition,  for some it would be considered bold to predict the outcome of the group winners and runner-ups. To football fans, however, it makes great sense to do so.

In all seriousness, it is truly difficult to accurately place teams on a ranking order without making mistakes. Even though many admit to the absurdity of confidently knowing how the group stage will unfold, it is only natural to want to cement a team on the winner’s spot, and nail the runner-up on its deserving place.

Group A

Right off the bat, Atlético Madrid stands as the favorite to win the group. Diego Simeone has repeatedly proven that he holds the right tools to propel an average team to appear twice in the UEFA CL final in a three year span. The roster has now reached stellar heights, which will make Simeone’s job much easier.

Scattered across the starting lineup, three key World Cup-winning French players make up the roster. In addition, Diego Costa will look closely for the goal this year, as the rest of the team will be composed of the praised talents of Koke, Filipe Luís, and Juanfran. The loss of keeper Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid has landed a heavy punch on their list of names, but their chances stand strong like every other time they’ve participated.

Atlético Madrid forward, Antoine Griezmann (right)

The other three in the group will have to fight it out among themselves to reach the second seed in the group. At best, Club Brugge will gain the respect of the audience, but qualification will most likely lay eyes on other teams in the group. Lack of experience will get to them, as it is highly unlikely for them to even reach qualification into the Europa League as third place finishers.

The second place will consequently belong to either Borussia Dortmund or Monaco. Although 2004’s Final and every qualifying stage tells us to never count Monaco out, I believe Dortmund will be able to make it past them to reach the Round of 16. Dortmund’s current form implies confidence and a fruitful return to the team’s past stature. Of course, their lineup can only reach so far, but it will be enough to squeeze out of Group A.

Monaco has always been able to own the effect of surprise, but their names lack the energy and confidence that a younger team like Dortmund does. Radamel Falcao may share his efforts for the team to go past the group stage this year, but I’m afraid that it will be Europa League that will save a seat for them in the Round of 16.

Group B

Although it may feel counter-intuitive, my choice for group winner goes with Tottenham, rather than Barcelona. On top of the fact that Barcelona has now lost its force as a strong favorite on the European stage, Tottenham’s confidence promises not only for domestic success, but also further conquering on the UEFA platform. I believe that Barcelona will finish second in the group, with its only two losses coming from Tottenham’s guns. The Catalans made it to the Round of 16 as Runner-ups last year, and disappointed in the quarterfinals when they were broken by Roma.

Tottenham’s Harry Kane (right)

PSV Eindhoven’s presence in the league will most likely last six games, just enough to play in the group stage. Inter’s reassembling efforts of this past summer will push them past the Dutch, and land them in the Europa League. Indeed, they have surprised in the past, like they did with their ultimate success of 2010, but this year they won’t be able to bring neither Tottenham or Barcelona to their knees. “The Mourinho days” will remain in the history books for Inter to never return, as they will be even for Mourinho himself. The Italians could still go far in the Europa League, with hopes to get something out of their return to European football after a six-year long absence.

Group C

In this group, I believe that Liverpool has the first seeding secured, not only with their 2018 appearance in the Final, but also with the confidence that the roster displays on pitch. Klopp’s boys will shoot for the stars this year, with plans to not only make it out of the group stage as winners, but to reach the final match of June 1st where they will hope to not make mistakes, again.

Liverpool manager, Jürgen Klopp

Although Napoli’s stride leads one to put them on the Runner-up seat, PSG will steal it from them. First of, Napoli lost its most precious piece to Chelsea (Sarri), and second, they won’t be able to compete against PSG’s rapidly maturing roster. Napoli will still be able to make it past Belgrade’s Red Star with ease, to enter the Europa League as third in the group, and compete against compatriots of Milan.

As for PSG, the team will indeed go far although they will come out as second from the group. Neymar has gone through important soul-searching this past summer to sharpen his senses as a complete player, Kylian Mbappé’s talent promises to break any defensive line, and Cavani’s work in front of the goal is an absolute pleasure to watch.

The group will be a tough one for all four teams, but that also means very interesting soccer for the watching fans.

Group D

Saturated with underdogs, this is one of those groups that throws off anyone’s bracket. While Lokomotiv Moscow come from the first pot, it cannot be forgotten that they reached there by finishing first in the Russian Premier League. In comparison, Porto’s experience and talent will most likely stop them from earning group points to top the group.

Porto FC star keeper, Iker Casillas

Galatasaray will have the most difficult duty as even in the Turkish Süper Lig. Schalke may have better chances, as in recent years the team has sought European success. They will have potential to reach past the third place, but Lokomotiv and Porto will most probably make sure they reach just that, Europa League Round of 16.

* * *

Generally, the outcome will be as expected for these groups, but surprises can and will occur. The September 18th matches will open this year’s season of European club football, to unfold the greatest talents in the continent, and place them in front of each other to battle it out with qualification in mind.

Cover photo: uefa.com

Griezmann photo: sportranker.com

Kane photo: bbc.co.uk

Klopp photo: thisisanfield.com

Casillas photo: en.as.com

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