Champions League – 2016/17 Group stage

The groups have been drawn and with only a few days to go until Europe’s premier club competition gets underway, we thought we’d have a look through each group and provide our tips on who we’re predicting is likely to progress to the next stage.

With some new faces added to the familiars it should create added interest in this year’s competition.

Champions-League-Group-Stages.png

Before we begin we’d like to say that we do not agree with UEFA’s seeding system and the multiple rounds that some clubs have to go through just to make it into the pots.

Champions deserve an automatic place in the competition not sides who finish a distant 4th. This would help the smaller leagues and nations throughout the continent as the money will be distributed in a fairer manner. We all know that the rich are getting richer and the poorer teams are being left further behind.

Anyway we have no say in these matters so onto the groups…

Group A

Arsenal – Basel – Ludogrets Razgrad – PSG

Wenger’s men once again pay the European price for domestic failure, a 2nd place finish in group A will ultimately lead to a meeting with a top side completing the season mission of last 16 stage. A PSG side under Unai Emery should progress comfortably in top spot leaving the minnows battling for the Europa League place.

Group B

Benfica – Besiktas – Dynamo Kiev – Napoli

One of the more intriguing groups of this year’s competition, All tricky sides in their own right and don’t expect to see too many away wins. Ultimately we expect to see Napoli and Benfica progress given their slightly greater European pedigree just don’t ask us in which order!

Group C

Barcelona – Borussia Monchengladbach – Man City – Celtic

The group of death for the Scottish champions, despite their impressive form under Brendan Rodgers, this group is one step too far and a big Eurovision “nil pois” could be on the cards for the Glasgow side. The Germans will take 3rd place, Pep’s City 2nd both unable to displace Messi & co from their usual 1st place.

Group D

Atletico Madrid – Bayern Munich – FC Rostov – PSV

Last season’s finalists will count themselves unlucky to be in with Bayern but you can’t see past both of them qualifying, the order will depend on the meetings between the two. PSV and Rostov are in to make up the numbers in Group D.

Group E

Bayer Leverkusen – CSKA Moscow – Monaco – Tottenham

We are tipping Tottenham to make it 4 from 4 in terms of English sides progressing and even going to call a group topping top seed position. Monaco aren’t the team they used to be and with Leverkusen hit or miss, Spurs need to take advantage. The German will join them at the top of Group E.

Group F

Borussia Dortmund – Legia Warsaw – Real Madrid – Sporting Lisbon

The champions will be comfortable and expect them to top this group. Do not be surprised to see Sporting cause an upset or two, especially at home. With their recent players sales they are a weaker opposition and Dortmund should have enough to join Real in the next round.

Group G

Club Brugge – FC Copenhagen – PC Porto – Leicester City

The Foxes are in dreamland and although they would have perhaps preferred a more glamorous tie they will quietly be aiming to progress. Porto will provide their sternest test but both Brugge and Copenhagen have continental experience. Tough group to call but it’s Porto and Leicester for us.

Group H

Dinamo Zagreb – Juventus – Lyon – Sevilla

Serial Europa League winners Sevilla have yet to make their mark in this competition, however this maybe their year to avoid the lesser cup. Along with Juventus they appear to be in good shape to see off Lyon and Zagreb.

That’s our predictions for the sides to compete in the latter stages in the early part of next year, not too many surprises it has to be said.

As always we look forward to the start of the competition and the big games that it will undoubtedly bring.

Tuesday 13th September sees the long road to the 3rd June 2017 final begin. With it being a “home” final in Cardiff will we see a British side contest the final 90mins for the 1st time since Chelsea four years ago?

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Champions League Table Image Sourced from; www.youtube.com
Millennium Stadium Image Sourced from; www.itv.com

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Euro 2016 – Full 1st Round Review

Well that’s come and gone quickly! We waited in anticipation for one of the most wide open European Championships to get underway and in the blink of an eye we have had the chance to see every team in action.

Qualified

Group A Group B Group C
France Wales Germany
Switzerland England Poland
Slovakia Northern Ireland
Group D Group E Group F
Croatia Italy Hungary
Spain Belgium Iceland
Rep Ireland Portugal

So just who has impressed, disappointed or held their own in the 1st round?

Made an impression

We’ll start with the obvious in Italy and Germany, 2 of the big boys went about their jobs in a professional fashion and will be hoping for a prolonged stay.

Croatia could very well be an outsider worth keeping an eye on, a wonder strike from Luka Modric is going to take some beating for goal of the tournament. Add in a deserved victory against Spain and an “easier” run to the final and you never know.

Additional mentions for Hungary, Poland and Wales. All have impressed with the way they have attempted to play. Lewandowski and Bale are match winners for the Poles and Welsh whereas Hungary who have turned up without anything to lose, currently boast the most goals scored in the competition (6 in 3 games).

Will be disappointed

England will be kicking themselves by not negotiating Group B in the way they should have. A 2nd placed finish has left them in the much tougher half of the latter stages.

Controversially going to say the host nation France, without the resurgence of the talented Payet you have to wonder what might have been. They’ll need to improve to progress past a spirited Rep Ireland.

Sweden, Russia and Austria all came through the same “weak” qualification group and perhaps no major surprise to see them all on the 1st plane home given how they have performed.

Stood their ground

Little Iceland, a country with a population half the size of Glasgow holding the mighty Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal to a 1-1 draw and deservedly progressing from the group. Lots of talk about fairy stories this season and the men from Reykjavik need adding to this list.

A strange category for Spain to be mentioned, Iniesta has proved once again to be a maestro. A tough 2nd round match vs. Italy awaits after a Sergio Ramos missed penalty against Croatia. They’ll probably still be there or thereabouts but they are not the all-conquering side of recent years.

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We are starting to see Euro 2016 spark to life and knockout football will only aid this even further.

One thing we have certainly been impressed with is that every game has been well contested, played in the right spirit and the general standard of refereeing has been high so far and long may it continue.

It’s been entertaining albeit tense, but hopefully there is more good football to be seen in the next few days.

Certainly make no plans this weekend with 6 games split over Saturday and Sunday!

All the best to your supported nations for the rest of the championship.

Euro 2016 image sourced from; www.scmp.com
Last 16 image sourced from; www.goal.com


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