The UEFA Champions League is the most popular soccer tournament in the world. This year, it will be held in its new format with 24 teams instead of 16.
The champions league standings is a prediction for the UEFA Champions League Group Stages. It includes 3 bold predictions that will happen in the upcoming weeks.
The world’s greatest club tournament will begin in less than a week, when the finest European clubs take to the field across the continent to kick off the Champions League. Chelsea, the defending champions, will begin their campaign on September 14th in London against Zenit St. Petersburg, with Malmo FF of Sweden and Juventus rounding up their group.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are also in Group A, along with RB Leipzig of Germany and Club Brugge of Belgium. Other groups seem to be as intriguing, so here are three predictions for what will happen in this round of the Champions League.
In their group, Atletico Madrid will finish third.
The Spanish champions had an incredible season, winning the league despite sharing it with Real Madrid and Barcelona, and they will aim to maintain their momentum in a tough group. They were placed in one of the most evenly balanced groups in recent memory, with Liverpool, Milan, and Porto. While most people expect Atletico to complete the deal with Liverpool, it is obvious that it will not be an easy task.
Milan is a strong club with a long history in this tournament, having won it seven times in total, the most recent victory being in 2007. Their team is packed of athletes eager to show what they can do on the greatest stage, and they will not be an easy opponent. Porto, on the other hand, won the tournament unexpectedly in 2004 and advanced to the quarter-finals last year, falling to eventual champions Chelsea by a single goal. Furthermore, their team is virtually the same as last year, when they shocked rivals Juventus in the round of 16 by eliminating them in the second game in overtime.
Aside from this difficult Champions League group, Atletico Madrid did not excite supporters at the start of the season. In La Liga, they won two games and drew one, with both wins coming by a single goal difference, and they were only saved from loss by a strange own goal by Aissa Mandi against Villarreal. In general, Diego Simeone’s preferred style of play is more suited to the knockout stage, when he can better prepare his squad, while in the group stages, anything may happen in the Champions League. Milan, particularly Porto, have shown that they have the ability to compete with the greatest of teams, thus a second-place finish for one of these clubs will not be a shock.
In the group stage, Erling Haaland will score ten goals.
It’s a difficult task to score 10 goals in a Champions League campaign. When Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are excluded, most players are only capable of scoring 7-8 goals in a season. However, Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund is not like other players, since he scored 10 goals in only eight games last season.
The Norwegian striker is now a year older and more experienced, so it’s expected that he’ll strive to enhance every aspect of his game in the next season. In the Bundesliga, he has three goals in three games, and he will aim to add to his total in the Champions League in the opening game. Borussia Dortmund will face Besiktas in Turkey on September 15th.
The quality of Group C, which includes Borussia Dortmund and Haaland, may be a little simpler to traverse as well. While it would be foolish to dismiss any club competing at this level in European football, it is also true that Borussia Dortmund was placed in the best possible group coming out of the second round, which typically ensures at least one headline match-up in each group. From the first pot, which contains the winners of European leagues and tournaments, Borussia Dortmund got fortunate with Sporting Lisbon, and the group is completed by Ajax and the aforementioned Besiktas. For a tournament of this size, Haaland and his goal-scoring skills will undoubtedly benefit from an uninspiring group.
Villarreal will win Group F, while Atalanta will finish second behind Manchester United.
Villarreal and Manchester United are both familiar faces in Group F, so it should be an exciting matchup. At a lengthy penalty shootout in last season’s Europa League final, the Yellow Submarine defeated the Red Devils. While it is clear that Manchester United, led by Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo, would do all possible to revenge their loss, the group will still be extremely intriguing.
First and foremost, Villarreal deserves respect as the Europa League winners, and they are not an easy opponent. They didn’t lose anybody in the summer transfer season, and they acquired promising youngster Arnaut Danjuma from Bournemouth, as well as center-back duo Juan Foyth and Aissa Mandi from Tottenham and Betis, respectively. The squad still includes Gerard Moreno, a Spanish striker, and Pau Torres, a talented center-back, with experienced Manu Trigueros in the midfield.
On the opposite side of the Mediterranean Sea, from Bergamo, comes Atalanta, a team that stunned the world two seasons ago by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals. Unfortunately for the Italians, eventual finalists PSG were two strong, although they only managed a 2-1 win in the final competition, which was held in Portugal.
Last year, Real Madrid squeaked out a 1-0 victory against Atalanta thanks to a late goal by Ferland Mendy, in a game when Atalanta showed their true strength. Despite their 3-1 loss in the second leg, the Italians have shown to be formidable opponents, particularly when their core of Robin Gosens, Duvan Zapata, and Luis Muriel is on the field.
While United has the superior team in theory, Villarreal shown last summer that theory does not often translate into reality. Atalanta, on the other hand, has a history of snatching huge scalps, so the Red Devils will have their job cut out for them.
With all eyes on group A and the big showdown between tournament favorites Manchester City and PSG, this season has the potential to be really thrilling. Even outside of the top clubs, though, there is still quality and excitement to be found in other groups, and all neutrals will be anxious to witness what Europe’s finest of the best has to offer.
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