Champions League Group Stages Set

Don’t know how they do it, but English teams always have it easy in the group stages. Manyoo don’t have a walk in the park, but Arsenal should come out of that group with all 25 players getting minutes. Who is Partizan anyways?

Group A:

Inter, Werder Bremen, Tottenham, FC Twente

Eredivisie Champs Twente have little chance. Serie A hasn’t started yet, but I don’t think Rafa will do very well this year. He won’t replicate what Mourinho did last season and I don’t even think he will win a real piece of silverware this season. However, bias aside, Inter will go through alongside either Werder Bremen or Tottenham. Bremen looked exceptional in their qualifying round regardless of the scorelines. Tottenham seem to perform poorly in hostile conditions, so I don’t expect another 4-0 showing, nor another possibility of a robot dance. Any chance you hear Crouch wanting to play Real Madrid? Idiot.

My call: Inter goes through on 13 points and Bremen with 11.

Group B:

Lyon, Benfica, Schalke, Hapoel Tel Aviv

The young Lyon team that made last season’s semifinal CL run loses nobody in my eyes and gains one of the better play-makers in the world with Yoann Gourcuff. A partially past-its-prime Benfica still looks to be a nuisance in European play. Paraguayan international, Oscar Cardozo, scored 38 goals in all competitions last season and at age 27, I expect a similar season. Addition of Raul really means nothing to me, but Schalke has the best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga along with a few German Internationals and if anyone cares, the first Chinese player than I’ve come across to be playing in a big European club. When I think of Tel Aviv, I think of the Israeli National TV Station. That’s all I have to say about them.

My call: Lyon come out with 14 points and Schalke squeezing through on some ridiculous comparisons with 9 or 10 points.

Group C:

Manchester United, Valencia, Rangers, Bursaspor

Expectations just point to Manchester United getting through with some ease. Valencia lost their entire team this summer when Villa went to the Catalan club and Silva being bought out by City. I will still take Valencia over Rangers any day of the week. Rangers have no one worth naming and have a schedule that is packed with absolutely nothing. Bursaspor somehow took the Super Lig in Turkey and I’ll be honest, I can not name a single player on that roster, let alone pronounce a proper noun on that thing.

My call: Manchester United 18pts, Valencia 12 pts. No arguments.

Group D:

Barcelona, Panathinaikos, Copenhagan, Rubin Kazan

The Nou Camp have the most complete team in the world. I won’t even give you room to argue that. Greek champions, Panathinaikos, actually have a formidable squad. With two French additions from Lyon, the roster only gets better with names like Djibril Cisse and Gilberto Silva in it. FC Copenhagan have no chance just like Rubin Kazan, but Copenhagan so have a decent #10 with the most expensive Danish international, Jesper Gronkjaer. Dare you to say his name in front of him. We always see Rubin Kazan in the Cl, but that’s about it. Just another name to skew the goal differential. They have a better chance than FC Copenhagan though. Not like it matters.

My call: Barcelona 18 pts with ease and Panathinaikos 12 pts because Barca will smack them around twice.

Group E:

Bayern Munich, Roma, Basel, CFR Cruj

Watching last year’s final, I wanted Van Gaal’s boys to do some much better. Robben was completely removed from his game, while Sneijder made Milito look unstoppable. Winners of the domestic double, Bayern Munich lose Luca Toni, who struggled to fit into the team. They’ll be fine and can replicated their last season. Roma’s lineup doesn’t change from their very close second place finish behind Inter. The team is all past it’s prime, but better off than Basel or CFR Cruj. Basel’s captain is Alexandre Frei, who just loves to score goals and stay out of the sun. CFR Cruj make their second appearance ever in the CL and will probably just try to win a game or two before falling out of these group stages.

My call: Bayern slip a bit and come out with 11 points, Roma leave with 10

Group F:

Chelsea, Marseille, Spartak Moscow, MSK Zilina

Chelsea is just going to be Chelsea and Avram Grant’s successor is going to just make sure of it. Drogba just seems to get better with age and with that ridiculous start to the newly opened EPL season, he will have great momentum going into the group stages. Marseille were champions of Ligue1, their first time since relegation nearly two decades ago. Marseille is led by former player and French icon, Didier Deschamps who led Marseille as a player to the only French CL win. Player to watch for them is Ben Arfa, who has been linked to nearly every big club in the world being a young talented winger. Spartak Moscow earned an auto bid to the group stages with a second place finish in the Russian Premier League. Zilina makes its first appearance in the group stages having won the Slovak first division.

My call: Chelsea doesn’t sweep, but comes close with 15 points and Marseille come out with 10pts.

Group G:

AC Milan, Real Madrid, Ajax, Auxerre

Already known as the CL group of death, we can expect many good games from this group. Auxerre is still a mystery to me and I don’t mind continuing to keep them that way in my head. A whole lot of transfer talk has been buzzing around the Rossoneri. Ibrahimovic, Kevin-Prince Boateng, and Ben Arfa have all been rumored to head to Milan. Ibrahimovic seems to be the closest deal, but Milan would lose Huntelaar. No big deal. No need to talk up The All-Whites. Great new coach, all-star players, and unlimited possibilities for Real Madrid. Ajax took second behind FC Twente, but that means nothing to me with captain Luis Suarez as their front runner. Suarez was named Dutch Footballer of the Year scoring an insane 49 goals in all competitions last season. Suarez is also now a Uruguayan treasure for the red card he received to keep Uruguay in the WC.

My call: Real Madrid 14pts, Ajax 9pts. Wild guesses are allowed.

Group H:

Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Partizan

I’ll be pissed if Arsenal don’t come out of this group with at least 14 pts. Shakhtar Donetsk is captained by the Croatian Nat’l Team captain Darijo Srna. Donetsk won the UEFA Cup two years ago and I don’t see why they won’t be a threat in this group. Braga have little history in their domestic league, let alone European play. They are a young team with no captain and too many Brazilians that don’t matter. Partizan made one group stage appearance in their history and have won the last three league titles in Serbia.

My call: Arsenal with 13 pts just because I don’t want to disappoint myself and I guess Shakhtar Donetsk with 10 pts.

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