Last night, Monaco played the host for UEFA Champions League Draw and the night, filled with glittering stars, did not disappoint anyone. The highlight of the evening was Pep Guardiola grouped with his former club, FC Barcelona, and Broussia Dortmund were enrolled in the same group as Real Madrid, once again.
Cristiano Ronaldo won the best player award in Europe but still Antonio Griezmann’s shoes stole the show. He was a bit confused between formal and casual and ended up with a fusion. The award for Best Female Player went to Ada Hegerberg, who was among the highlights of the show. A night that had to decide the fate of Europe’s elite provided a balance draw and the uneven distribution of power was missed. UEFA Champions’ League Group Stage is now finalized. Let’s look into who will be facing who this time around:
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 25, 2016
Arsenal are somewhat blessed to be potted in a relatively easier group, where the only tough call will be from Paris-Saint Germain (PSG). PSG is one gun short of their arsenal since Zlatan Ibrahimovic has left the French capital to join Manchester United. Still, the squad is extremely destructive with some exceptionally talented players, capable of doing wonders in regular intervals. Basel is the third side in the group but it lacks the audacity to challenge the title; however, they have an amazing record against English clubs, something Arsene Wenger and his men should be pondering upon. The fourth and the final side is Ludogorets from Bulgaria and it will be only the second time that the club has qualified for the Champions League group stage. PSG are the clear favorites from this group while Arsenal and Basel will be challenging the second spot.
This is one of the easiest groups; at least at the surface it looks it one. Group B holds Napoli, Benefica, Dynamo Kiev and Besiktas. Napoli is the only side that failed to reach the second round after scoring 12 points, since they failed on the head-to-head record against Dortmund and Arsenal last time they were in the competition. The beauty of this group is that every team has a fair chance to progress but Napoli, who will be missing their big gun, Higuain, are the clear favorites.
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 25, 2016
So far the most exciting and the most entertaining group, Group C, holds Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and his former club Barcelona. Two of the most powerful squads in Europe, backed by the greatest minds as managers, will be against each other to seal the top spot. However, Celtic can be dangerous on their day but Roger’s men will be out there giving their best shot. Monchengladbach has a balance squad but they lack the flare to win against big clubs. Tough to decide the favorites from this group!
Bayern will be out for revenge from the Spanish side, who forced them out from last year’s competition in the semis, while Atletico Madrid will be aiming to defeat the curse and claim the crown this time. The Russian side, Rostov, will be debuting in the UEFA Champions League and are aiming to give their opponents a considerable challenge in their maiden appearance. On the other hand, PSV are once again part of Europe’s elite but they have lost the charm they used to have in the past. Bayern and Atletico are the clear cut qualifiers for the second round from Group D. Sorry! But we don’t consider PSV a tough call.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 25, 2016
Leverkusen and Monaco have won the league once, a decade ago, which means they are not the real title contenders, yet have a competitive squad that helped them land in the UEFA Champions’ League group stage. Tottenham had an impressive season back home and this is their second appearance in the UEFA Champions League. They are a good side equipped with young, energetic, and talented players that combine to formulate a strong and exciting side. CSKA Moscow is once again part of the game to fill the consolation place. Anyway, every side has an equal chance to qualify for the next stage depending upon the consistency they show.
With Broussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in the group, you wish to stay aside and don’t become part of this group. However, Sporting Lisbon saw their prayers unanswered while Legia Warsaw will be blaming their luck. The polish side is competing in the competition for the first time. All in all, Dortmund and Madrid are the clear recipients of the top spots but the notable point is that Cristiano Ronaldo will be returning to the club he started from. It will be emotional indeed!
Claudio Ranieri: "Our supporters deserve the chance to watch their team around Europe against teams like Porto, Club Brugge and Copenhagen."
— Leicester City (@LCFC) August 25, 2016
Porto always had to undergo tough treatment in the group stage but this time, UEFA Champions League Draw, placed them in pleasant surroundings. Copenhagen has only managed to qualify for the knock-out stage once in their previous four attempts, while Club Brugge is yet to make their mark in as many appearances. On the other hand, Leicester City is also making their debut and the defending champions of the English Crown have high hopes to qualify for the next round after a surprising title-winning season. Fans in Leicester looked relieved after the draw and being dropped into an easier group. Porto is expected to make it to the knock-out stage from this group but will Leicester be able to repeat history? Let’s see!
— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) August 26, 2016
Juventus is the only Italian side to showcase impressive season in Champions League and have been consistent for last three seasons. They have boasted their squad and are expected to reach the last 16. Sevilla seems to love Europa League more than UEFA Champions League but we believe this time they’ll fight for a superior accolade. Lyon also had impressive season in the Champions league but money rolls left them behind in acquiring some of the best talents in Europe. Dinamo Zagreb will be working on improving their record in UEFA Champions league as they have one of the worst records in the competition history.
The stage is set and the ties are decided. The first round will see teams from four groups. It will be Matchweek 1 on September 13 and 14, 2016. We have picked our last 16 but what about you? Feel free to share your suggestions and predictions.