Friday, August 26, 2016

Hooligan's Wake Up: Analyzing the Champions League Group Stage

Yesterday's Scores
CONCACAF Champions League
W Connection FC 1-1 Honduras Progreso
(St. Prix 33')-(Tejeda PK 50')

CD Dragon 0-0 Saprissa

CONCACAF Champions League Table

Headlines
The UEFA Champions League held it's group stage draw yesterday. Here's how it all shook out;

Group A
Paris-Saint Germain
Arsenal
FC Basel
Ludogorets Razgrad

Arsenal gets a not unfavorable draw. PSG is hardly the best of the top seeded sides they could have drawn and they are far from the worst. FC Basel can be tricky, but Ludogorets shouldn't provide much of a challenge. Paris-Saint Germain will more than likely win the group and, barring some form of Arsenalization, the Gunners should come in second.

Group B
Benfica
Napoli
Dynamo Kiev
Besiktas

Here's a pretty tricky group to call. With no real world powers to choose from, we get the Portuguese champs in Benfica, the Italian runners up with Napoli, and a couple of tough road matches with Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine and Besiktas in Turkey. Benfica and Napoli are the favorites, but one of the other two sneaking in would hardly be a shock.

Group C
Barcelona
Manchester City
Borussia Monchengladbach
Celtic

Here's your group of death. Barcelona and Manchester City are both perennial contenders. Gladbach are becoming a regular in this competition and could prove difficult. I have to feel bad for Glasgow Celtic, who could have been a sneaky club if they had been gifted a better draw. I'll pick Barca and City to go through with Gladbach trying to break in on the final matchday. There's also the fun storyline of Pep Guardiola returning to Barcelona, where he last won the Champions League.

Group D
Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
PSV Eindhoven
Rostov

Bayern Munich will more than likely keep their strong Champions League performance run going. The main matchup to watch will be when they take on defending finalists Atletico Madrid. Eindhoven did beat Manchester United last year, so they could be the spoiler. As for Rostov, thanks for playing.

Group E
CSKA Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen
Tottenham Hotspur
AS Monaco

Tottenham don't have too much of a challenge at first glance, until you look at how good of a team Bayer Leverkusen can be and how tough a trip to Russia is. Even AS Monaco have been known to ruin English opposition in the past. Picking Spurs to get out of this is a tall order, but I think they will be up to the task. They finish second behind Leverkusen.

Group F
Real Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
Sporting
Legia Warsaw

Real Madrid gets a rather simple path to the top of this group. Borussia Dortmund are their only real threat and even they will be little more than a small bump in the road. Expect Legia Warsaw to win the atmosphere battle, but them and Sporting will drop out on the pitch.

Group G
Leicester City
Porto
Club Brugge
FC Copenhagen

This isn't a bad welcoming party for Leicester City. Porto is their toughest challenge, but they can take them at the King Power Stadium, where you can bet the Leicester crowd will be rocking. Their road trips will be a little tough, but I fancy them to escape this group along with Porto.

Group H
Juventus
Sevilla
Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb

Juventus will have to deal with a difficult trip to Croatia, where you never know what sort of madness awaits you. They certainly are miles ahead of their opponents in terms of talent, though, and should win the group. The battle for second will be more interesting. Sevilla, who are thrice defending winners of the Europa League, will stand a good shot to not have to end up down there again. They are the better team compared to Lyon and Dinamo, but anything can happen here.

The Group Stage kicks off on September 13.

Other than the Champions League, it was a busy day for transfers. Arsenal reportedly agreed to fees with Deportivo La Coruna striker Lucas Perez and Valencia and German international defender Shkodran Mustafi. Perez isn't the world class striker Arsenal supporters demanded, but he's an alternative to Oliver Giroud, at least. Mustafi is more along the lines of what they were looking for on the back line, so he should help them out. The pair will cost a total of £52 million.

Manchester City have finished the purchase of Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo from Barcelona. He should start for the Citizens over the out of favor Joe Hart. 

Crisitano Ronaldo has won another award. He won the "Best Player in Europe" award, mostly thanks to winning both the Champions League and Euros in 2016.

Today's Matches
Bundesliga
Bayern Munich v. Werder Bremen- 2:30pm- FS1

La Liga
Real Betis v. Deportivo La Coruna- 2:45pm
Espanyol v. Malaga- 4:45pm

Ligue 1
Marseille v. Lorient-  2:45pm

MLS
Real Salt Lake v. Colorado Rapids- 8pm- UniMas

Liga MX
Tijuana v. Pumas UNAM- 10pm

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