Predicting where every Premier League club will finish in their Champions League Group
Predictions. They can be the death of any individual in any profession. Sometimes an epiphany comes and you willingly answer to it, making jaw-dropping claims that can lead to someone calling you mad.
Thankfully, I am simply predicting football results and whilst I am taking this very seriously, it could be a lot worse. Next week is the start of the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s most prestige club competition, with the best teams in the continent once again competing to be crowned the Kings of Europe.
A crop of teams that will perhaps be looking to make more of an impression in this year’s competition are all the English clubs as last season was rather disappointing, with no English teams making it past the quarter-finals. This season sees last year’s Premier League champions Liverpool followed by Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea. Although it might not be the most favourable outcome for the clubs, for us fans, the group stage draw provided us with exciting matchups for the English sides. In the following, I will make my predictions on how each team will finish in their group. Hopefully I get all of them correct.
At least half.
Liverpool — Ajax — Atalanta — Midtjylland
Liverpool were shocked by Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 last year, losing 1–0 in Madrid and then seeing a 2–0 lead at Anfield be quickly erased by the Spaniards in extra-time to be sent home with a 3–2 loss.
They’re grouped with Amsterdam’s own Ajax, always an unpredictable team that can cause issues to any side, Atalanta, a perhaps even more exciting team, with the Italians scoring 98 goals last season in Serie A. Champions of Denmark Midtjylland should provide the easiest game but that isn’t to say they will be pushovers.
However, Liverpool should top this group. Whilst I could see them have issues travelling to Amsterdam or Bergamo due to how open those games will be, I highly doubt they will drop a point in Anfield. It isn’t the most comfortable of groups, they’re also facing Everton and Manchester City in the league during these group games, but Liverpool are too talented and too well coached to not finish 1st in this group. Even a 7–2 loss to Aston Villa last weekend doesn’t faze me.
Predicted Standings (From left to right)
Liverpool — Atalanta — Ajax — Midtjylland
Porto — Manchester City — Olympiacos — Marseille
Last year was meant to be their year. After so many shock exits and disappointing campaigns, everything was finally aligned for Pep Guardiola to lead Manchester City to the Champions League trophy. Well, almost everything, a 3–1 loss to Lyon in the quarter finals was definitely not part of the plan. Many critics came for Guardiola, questioning his tactical decisions and wondering if he could ever win the trophy again, failing to win since 2011 with Barcelona.
Their group this year consists of a very entertaining Porto team, one that won the Portuguese league last season, a tough and very fast Olympiacos, with the Greek team playing a high level of football during last season’s Europa League. Andre Villas-Boas seems to have re-found his confidence with Marseille, guiding them to 2nd in Ligue 1 and having talented players, like Florian Thauvin, that can be a threat in any game.
Fortunately for Manchester City, they will also top this group. The Citizens haven’t started their league campaign so well, sitting in 14th place after 3 games, including a 5–2 loss to Leicester City at home. Yet, this team, this coach, these players, they are still one of the best in the sport. It’s a very entertaining, if not, slightly gritty group, but City always dominate in the group stages, so they should top it. Don’t be surprised if they have it wrapped up by match-week 5.
Manchester City — Porto — Marseille — Olympiacos
PSG — Manchester United — RB Leipzig — Istanbul Basaksehir
After a one year absence, Manchester United are BACK! Ole’s at the wheel! And apparently, he’s given the keys to Bruno Fernandes, the Portuguese superstar that joined in January. A great end to a good season last year has quickly turned sour this year, as the Red Devils sit in 16th, having lost 2 and won 1 in 3, losing 6–1 at home to Tottenham Hotspur. Fernandes is apparently not happy with the manager, captain Harry Maguire looks like he needs a GPS in defence, and David De Gea is struggling to find his once elite form.
Unfortunately for United, things don’t look any brighter in the Champions League. They have to match up against last year’s finalist Paris Saint-Germain, looking for another shot at the title after coming so close to winning it last season. RB Leipzig finished in the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, and although they lost a key player on Timo Werner, he didn’t play the knockout stages of the club’s run to the semis and they have found some solid replacements for Werner, so they probably won’t skip a beat. Istanbul Basaksehir will compete in the Champions League for the first time ever, winning their first Turkish league title last season.
United could limp to 2nd in the group with some luck, but if the team is as deflated as it looks right now, it won’t be an easy to group to escape from. PSG might not look like themselves yet but Neymar, Mbappe and co. are almost unstoppable on their day. They might steal 4 points from Leipzig but I don’t see them doing so. I’m sorry United fans, back to the Europa League you go.
PSG — RB Leipzig — Manchester United — Istanbul Basaksehir
Sevilla — Chelsea — Stade Rennais — Krasnodar
Summer isn’t known as the gift-giving time, but for Frank Lampard, Christmas came very early. His multitude of signings have made them the most anticipated team to watch not only in England but in Europe. Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Thiago Silva, Edouard Mendy, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Maland Sarr are all the star quality players that Chelsea added this summer and even though things have not been as impressive as everyone thought, the team needs time to gel, and Lampard needs to figure out how he’s going to use his plethora of new attacking talent.
The group is quite interesting and could be tricky. Sevilla are a much better team than people give them credit for, winning the Europa League last season and hoping to cause a threat in Spain. Stade Rennais are currently tied in 1st in France with PSG, and emerging superstar Eduardo Camavinga can pull all the strings to control a match. Krasnodar are a Champions League regular and travelling to Russia during fall or winter to play football doesn’t sound like the most pleasing experience.
Chelsea will do just enough. I could see them potentially fighting for 1st place and trying not to finish 3rd in the final match-week, ultimately coming down to who can steal points from each other’s homes and Chelsea have more than enough talent to do so. I put them in 2nd not because they are a lot worse than Sevilla, but Sevilla are a dangerous team that make some serious noise.
Sevilla — Chelsea — Stade Rennais — Krasnodar
On the 9th of December, we shall all see how correct or incorrect I was. I’m sure many, if not all, of you want me to get them all correct and I truly appreciate it. Maybe Christmas will come early for me too.