The most mouthwatering, jaw dropping, knuckle cracking, head bashing, nail biting and of course heart breaking competition is literally around the corner. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the 2014/15 Champions League and I haven’t been this excited since Ramos knocked in a 93rd minute header which led Madrid to victory last year. It’s time to put the domestic leagues on pause for a couple of days, because the greatest European football championship will be underway in less than 24 hours.
My name is Steven Zanga, and I will be taking you all through my thoughts on this years upcoming Champions League. Enjoy.
Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo.
As much as I’d like to give the trophy to Juventus prematurely, with all due respect I don’t believe the Bianconeri have what it takes to take the crown in Group A. Coming up against a fully fit Atletico Madrid with Turan off the bench and Mandzukic filling in for Diego Costa, I don’t think any of the teams in Group A have what it takes to take on Diego Simeone’s over exploitation of anger on the pitch.
As for Juventus, if all goes well with Allegri throughout the season; the club can go very deep into this competition ensuring that the squad remains healthy. All eyes will be on Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and newly acquired Alvaro Morata hoping that they can carry Juventus throughout the competition.
Despite Olympiakos’ great round of 16 run during last years Champions League and the consistency of their squad, I don’t believe the Greeks have what it takes to surpass Juventus and Atletico Madrid, however there’s always room for upsets and I’d love to see this side move forward because of the passion that they possess .
Predictions: Atletico Madrid and Juventus go through.
Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets.
Well, for starters I’d like to say welcome back to Liverpool for being non existent in the Champions League for 6 years. Second, which team will be moving on with Ronaldo and the rest of Real Madrid? Will it be Basel or Liverpool?
Can Brendan Rodgers tame the animal inside of Mario Balotelli and turn him into a star? I doubt it, but I hope he does. Mario Balotelli to Liverpool might just be the most fragmentary transfer this summer, but can he take over for Suarez and carry Liverpool throughout the competition… or will it be a Roberto Mancini love story all over again?
Basel, who are dreading that they weren’t paired up with Chelsea this year will not be seeing much glory this year since they sold Salah to none other than Chelsea. I guess after all those losses, Mourinho decided to weaken the enemy in order to beat them? Just a suggestion.
Predictions: Real Madrid and Liverpool move on.
Benfica, Zenit, Leverkusen, Monaco.
Monaco will be headed no where this year considering they lost the most anticipated striker of last season to a team that aren’t even contenders for this years Champions League, Radamel Falcao and also letting James escape to Real Madrid. I’m predicting 0 wins in 6 games for the French side.
Zenit who still rely on Hulk for the goal scoring department and André Villas-Boas’ delusional tactics, can see themselves praying to get through this group stage and into the round of 16.
Benfica are substantially horrid in the group stages of this competition, I’d love to see this Portuguese side go through but the Europa League is theirs to win.
Bayern Leverkusen. Bayern Leverkusen… Bayern Leverk- will win the group, the German side has made a phenomenal debut in the Bundesliga this season, stomping Borussia Dortmund and securing two more wins. This side is driven with passion and could be a very exciting team to watch this year.
Predictions: Bayern Leverkusen and Zenit move on.
Arsenal, Dortmund, Galatasaray, Anderlecht.
Dortmund who have been struggling with injuries for 2 years now have just added yet another player to the injury reserve. German Star Marco Reus will be missing Dortmunds first match up on Tuesday against Arsenal. However I do believe Klopp and his barbarians have what it takes to surpass Arsenal and come out on top of this group.
Arsenal have struggled to make an impact this season domestically with draws against Leicester City, Manchester City and Everton. They will have to work much harder on Tuesday against Dortmund if they want to create a psychological dominance throughout the other teams in the competition. However, none the less Aaron Ramsey will lead the Gunners to second place in this group stage.
Galatasaray who is led by former Azzurri National coach, Cesare Prandelli, were not linked with Juventus this season, therefor that crucial win they need to surpass the second place team isn’t evident this year, sorry.
Predictions: Dortmund and Arsenal move on.
Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow, Roma.
Welcome to the group of death…
Bayern Munich have a direct flight to the Semi Finals without any layovers. The quality of this team is just outstanding and there is little chance that a team like Roma or Moscow could even bruise the German Giants.
Manchester City who have a notorious history of being atrocious in European competition will have to settle the deal with Roma to see who will be taking runner up of group E. If Manchester City can pull a tie against Bayern Munich, they could potentially be seeing the round of 16.
As for CSKA Moscow, see you guys next year.
Predictions: Bayern Munich, Manchester City.
Barcelona, PSG, AJAX, APOEL.
There isn’t much to say about this group rather than Zlatan is hungry for Champions League glory and his body clock is ticking closer to retirement. Dare To Zlatan?
Messi is blood thirsty and wants to out do Cristiano Ronaldo this year and claim a 5th Ballon D’or, but can the Argentinian do it? He has Neymar and newly added Suarez who will help the Catalan club achieve glory.
Predictions: Barcelona, PSG will move on.
Chelsea, Schalke 04, Sporting CP, Maribor.
Chelsea once again receiving an easy draw, who’s the favorite to win the group? Chelsea is. As long as they can play perfect football and not under estimate their opponents I believe Chelsea will fly through these matches.
Schalke 04 and Sporting CP will be the deciding match on to who will be proceeding through the group stage. Hopefully Julian Draxler puts on a stellar performance so that Real Madrid can get their check books ready and break another transfer record.
Precictions: Chelsea, Schalke will move on.
Porto, Shakhtar, Bilbao, BATE Borisov.
Porto, Shakhtar and Bilbao are all teams that strive on home soil, therefor the deciding factor of this group will be which team can win away from home. Bilbao who have shown dominance in qualifying against Napoli have my vote in winning this group. As for Porto, the reliable Jackson Martinez should be able to secure a spot in the round of 16 for the Portuguese side. However Shakhtar is always unexpected.
Predictions: Bilbao and Porto will move on.