Last year’s UCL had everything from epic comebacks to VAR controversy and the good news is, it’s back again! Matchday 1 of the Group Stage kicks off on Tuesday with the likes of reigning champions Liverpool, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in action. Here is our preview of the 2019/20 edition of the UCL, including which teams will advance out of the group stage, the title contenders and who will surprise like Ajax and Tottenham did last year.
This group looks relatively straight-forward on paper with PSG and Real Madrid heavy favourites to advance. But don’t look past Club Brugge and Galatasaray who both won their respective leagues last season and could spring an upset if any of the big clubs are off their game. Both PSG and Madrid faltered in last year’s UCL and will be hungry to avenge their previous campaign, making them very hard to look past.
Predicted Group A Finish: 1. PSG, 2. Real Madrid, 3. Club Brugge, 4. Galatasaray
German giants Bayern and last years surprise finalists Tottenham are clear favourites in Group B in what should be a brilliant clash on matchday 2 in early October. Olympiacos and Crvena Zvevda have struggled to progress past the group stage in recent times but with Spurs’ slow start to Premier League season, they’ll think they’re a chance!
Predicted Group B Finish: 1. Munich, 2. Tottenham, 3. Olympiacos, 4. Crvena Zvevda
City have the easiest job out of any team in the group stage and should go through undefeated. Shakhtar will most likely nab second place with the Ukrainians possessing more than enough prowess to get past Zagreb and Atlanta. Not the most exciting group!
Predicted Group C Finish: 1. Man City, 2. Shakhtar Donetsk, 3. Atlanta, 4. Dinamo Zagreb
Another brilliant clash in the group stages with Juventus and Atletico to do battle in matchday 1! Their two encounters will most likely decide who finishes 1st and 2nd in this group, but don’t count out Leverkusen, who are possible of an upset on any day. On the other hand, Moskva are no chance of getting past the group stage.
Predicted Group D Finish: 1st. Juventus, 2nd. Atletico, 3. Leverkusen, 4. Moskva
This looks another straight-forward group, with Liverpool and Napoli clear favourites to advance. Genk and Salzburg are nowhere near the quality of the others and could potentially leak a lot of goals. The reigning champions should top the group but the Napoli encounters will be fun to watch!
Predicted Group E Finish: 1st. Liverpool, 2nd. Napoli, 3. Salzburg, 4. Genk
Say hello to the group of death. Slavia Praha have no chance, surprise, surprise, leaving Barca, Dortmund and Inter to fight it out for the top placings. Barcelona have had a woeful start to their La Liga campaign, casting major doubts over their chances. Dortmund started well before going down to the promoted Union Berlin 3-1, whereas Inter have begun their season perfectly under the guidance of Antonio Conte. You simply cannot go past Barcelona, who should rise to the occasion, and with Inter looking solid under new leadership, we’ve got them ahead of the black and yellow!
Predicted Group F Finish: 1st. Inter, 2nd. Barcelona, 3. Dortmund, 4. Slavia Praha
There are no big names in this group but it’s seriously tough to pick who will advance. Lyon and RB Leipzig come from tougher leagues and will be more battle hardened, but that could be to their detriment when they come up against a fresher Zenit and Benfica. This group will go down to the last day so be prepared for any result!
Predicted Group G Finish: 1st. RB Leipzig, 2nd. Zenit, 3. Lyon, 4. Benfica
This is another group that lacks big names and could throw up a number of results. Ajax have started the season well despite losing some of their stars in the transfer window. On the other hand, Chelsea and Valencia are a bit of a lottery and could toss up any result on any day. Lille will most likely struggle after the loss of Nicloas Pepe and their start to the season has been quite shaky too. If Chelsea’s youngsters can stand up on the big stage they will advance, but that’s a big if!
Predicted Group H Finish: 1st. Ajax, 2nd. Valencia, 3. Chelsea, 4. Lille
This looks like the year where Pep’s men take a step forward and claim the ultimate honours in European football. Their squad possesses even more depth this season and if they stay injury free they’ll remain favourites. Juventus also have an intimidating squad but a new manager with new ideas might leave them too much food for thought. Liverpool are clearly a chance after making the final in the last two seasons (winning last year) and if Barcelona can sort out their poor start in the La Liga, they’re every chance of claiming their first title since 2015.
Predicted Title Contenders and Odds (in order): Man City 4, Juventus 7, Liverpool 7.5 & Barcelona 6
Inter came third in the group stage last year, which landed them in the Europa League round of 32, but they couldn’t even make it past the round of 16, going down to Frankfurt. This season brings new hope to the San Siro club with the aforementioned Antonio Conte arriving as manager, along with new signings Romelu Lukaku, Diego Godin and Alexis Sanchez. After a great start to their 2019/20 Serie A campaign, Conte’s first task will be navigating through the group of death, but if they can do so and the likes of Martinez, Lukaku and Sanchez fire, don’t be surprised if they go deep in the UCL.
Predicted Surprise Packets & Odds: Inter Milan 26