UEFA Champions League Group Stage Preview

Joe’s Picks to advance are selected in Red, Dylan’s picks to advance are selected in Blue, and mutual selections are selected in Purple.

2013-14 UEFA Champions League Storylines, Facts and Figures:

Group A: Manchester United FC, FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Real Sociedad de Futbol
Matches to watch: Manchester United vs. Bayer Leverkeusen

Group B: Juventus, Galatasaray AS, Real Madrid CF, FC Kobenhaven
Matches to watch: Real Madrid vs. Juventus

Group C: Paris Saint-Germain FC, SL Benfica, RSC Anderlecht, Olympiacos FC
Matches to watch: Paris Saint-Germain vs. Benfica

Group D: Manchester City FC, FC Bayern Munchen, PFC CSKA Moskva, FC Viktoria Plzen
Matches to watch: Bayern vs. City, CSKA Moscow vs. Viktoria Plzen

Group E: FC Basel 1893, FC Schalke 04, FC Steaua Bucuresti, Chelsea FC
Matches to watch: Chelsea vs. Basel

Group F: Borussia Dortmund, Olympique de Marseille, Arsenal FC, SSC Napoli
Matches to watch:  Arsenal vs. Marseille, Napoli vs. Borussia Dortmund

Group G: FC Zenit, FK Austria Wien, FC Porto, Club Atletico de Madrid
Matches to watch: FC Zenit vs. FK Austria Wien, FC Porto vs. Atletico Madrid

Group H: AFC Ajax, AC Milan, Celtic FC, FC Barcelona
Matches to watch: Barcelona vs. Milan, Everyone at Celtic

Easiest path out of the group stage – Dylan: Chelsea   Joe: Chelsea

Toughest road out of the group stage – Dylan: Arsenal  Joe: Galatasaray

Storylines

David Moyes
David Moyes leads Manchester United into their Matchday 1 game against a scrappy Bayer Leverkusen side. Moyes is relatively new to the Champions League schedule as he only qualified for the CL once with Everton and failed to get out of the qualifying rounds. Many of Moyes’ biggest critics will be looking to see how his side performs in the Champions League after a somewhat slow start to the Premier League season.

– How will the Italian teams perform? Several years ago Germany overtook Italy in the UEFA Coefficient standings which meant that Italy lost their 4th CL spot to Germany leaving them with only 3. This year might be Italy’s best opportunity to get a team back to the top of Europe with both Juventus and Napoli being considered as strong favorites to make a deep run. Juventus has been unconvincing in Serie A thus far whilst Napoli has shown it is a real contender on all fronts.

Tata Martino Barcelona

– Tata Martino becomes the 3rd Barcelona manager in 3 years to lead Barcelona into the Champions League. The main question with Martino is, can he implement the same mindset and philosophy that had Barcelona basically unbeatable under Pep Guardiola? Barcelona hasn’t made the Champions League final since beating Manchester United at Wembley in 2011, which amazingly has Barcelona fans questioning the strength of their side which boasts 2 of the best players in the world in Messi and Neymar.

Arsenal v Marseille

– Who will emerge from the “Group of Death” is the juiciest storyline of every Champions League campaign. This year the “Group of Death” is quite clearly Group F which includes last years finalist Borussia Dortmund along with Napoli, Arsenal and Marseille. At first look the obvious choices are Dortmund and Napoli but this is the Champions League and we all know anything can happen at any time. This group will be very fun to watch.

– Can a squad from outside the Big 4 of England/Italy/Spain/Germany advance to the final? Not since 2003-04 – when Porto defeated AS Monaco 3-0 in Germany – has a team from outside of those countries made it to the final round. There are obvious reasons to this, what with the world’s top clubs being based out of these nations. But with top sides in France and Portugal still, could this be the year that someone else breaks through?

Bayern Munich UEFA CL champions

– Can Bayern Munich reach the final for the third consecutive season? Juventus were the last side to make it to the championship match in 3 straight years, doing so 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98, winning only the first of the three. Bayern return a quality side, though they have made some changes. Forward Mario Gomez departed for Fiorentina of Serie A and Midfielder Luiz Gustavo left for Vfl Wolfsburg. Bayern did however bring in CM Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona, as well as Midfielder Mario Gotze, and replaced the retiring Jupp Heynckes with Pep Guardiola, who twice led Barcelona to Champions League glory.

Keep an eye out for our Watch Lists to know where to catch all the exciting Champions League action!

– Joe and Dylan

 

About Joe Giordano

I'm a full bred New Yorker, born and raised. I take massive pride in also calling myself Italian as my father was born in Palermo, Italy and moved to the US when he was 15. My biggest passion is sports, all kinds of sports. I'm an avid Inter and Manchester United supporter while also supporting the hometown NY Red Bulls, Jets, Mets and Islanders. Outside of sports I thoroughly enjoy crime shows, my favorite tv show right now has to be Dexter. I have a love for animals, cats and dogs alike. I'm also a music fanatic. I like pretty much every type of music but my favorites have to be classic rock (nothing better than some Led Zeppelin) and the blues.
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