Champions League 2018/19: Which teams are going through?
Another Champions League season is upon us, with some interesting groups being drawn. But which teams will advance to the knockout stages from their respective groups and which teams will finish third and go on to play in the knockout stages of the Europa League? Here are my predictions…
Order in seeding: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco & Club Brugge
Qualify: Atletico Madrid & Borussia Dortmund
3rd and 4th: Monaco & Club Brugge
Europa League winners Atletico have had a rather awkward start to their domestic league season, but will still qualify from this group. They have added some good new signings to bolster their midfield and attack, and even if they do not top the group, they will go through. Dortmund, are who I expect to go through with Atletico, as they have more goals in them than Monaco, as the French side have been weakened dramatically since they won the French league in the 2016/17 season. Monaco, should however finish third in the group, and drop in to the next stage of the Europa League.
Order in seeding: Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, PSV Eindhoven & Inter Milan
Qualify: Barcelona & Tottenham Hotspur
3rd and 4th: PSV Eindhoven & Inter Milan
While Lionel Messi is still playing football for Barcelona, it would be unrealistic to not see them qualify from a Champions League group. Group B, is the first of the alleged ‘group of deaths’, and all the other three teams will think they have a fair chance of going through. Tottenham, had a similar group last season, and were given no chance of prevailing, but they ended up topping the group. That experience means that I feel Tottenham will be the team to get to the knockout stage with Barcelona. Inter Milan have had an indifferent start to their league season, but should get third place here, and end up in the Europa League. Individually, Inter are better than PSV, which should be enough for them. This group will live up to its name, and there will be a few shock results along the way.
Order in seeding: Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool & Red Star Belgrade
Qualify: Liverpool & Paris Saint-Germain
3rd and 4th: Napoli & Red Star Belgrade
Group C, gives us the other ‘group of death’. Last seasons’ finalists Liverpool have been given a hard task here, but their firepower and improved defence should give them enough edge to get through. They have strengthened their squad, and everyone knows about European nights at Anfield. Paris Saint-Germain, boast a front line that can easily match Liverpool’s, and should go through with them, as their talent will be too much of threat. Napoli, are not to be underestimated, they also vaunt a great forward three and can exploit anyone. What may be Napoli’s achilles’ heel is the goals that they may leak at the back, last season Manchester City punished them for their naivety and they missed out on getting out of their group. It is for those reasons that Napoli will probably find themselves third and dropping into the Europa League.
Order in seeding: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke & Galatasaray
Qualify: Schalke & Porto
3rd and 4th: Lokomotiv Moscow & Galatasaray
In the aftermath of the group stage draw, group D, was the one that neutrals found the least interesting, however, it could wind up being quite entertaining, as it is actually wide open. Galatasaray, were the fourth seeds, but I expect them to surprise a few and go through, as they have goals in them and no one likes a trip to Turkey do they? Porto I feel will get to the next stage along with them, as the Portuguese champions should have the necessary tools, added to that, they have a wealth of experience in the competition. Returning to the competition are Schalke, who are also a good side and will probably take third ahead of Lokomotiv, but it will be quite tight.
Order in seeding: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax & AEK Athens
Qualify: Bayern Munich & Ajax
3rd and 4th: Benfica & AEK Athens
In the previous groups, I had only stated who I believe will go through, rather than which teams will specifically top their group and who will be runners up, I’ll tell you this however, Bayern Munich will top this group. The Germans, will prove too strong for the others and will qualify with games to spare. Ajax, I expect to pip Benfica for second place, as their goal threat I assume will be just enough for them. Benfica, and Ajax, play each other back-to-back in matchdays 3 and 4, and this will have a huge bearing on second place. Benfica, is who I feel will fall into the Europa League though.
Order in seeding: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon & Hoffenheim
Qualify: Manchester City & Shakhtar Donetsk
3rd and 4th: Lyon & Hoffenheim
Manchester City are looking to go all the way this year, and will not let up in this group, they will look to wrap up qualification early so that they can concentrate on things domestically. Incidentally, Shakhtar were the only team to beat City in their Champions League group last season, and this may be what spurs Shakhtar on to go through with City. Despite City having qualified before that defeat last campaign, it may just intimidate Lyon and Hoffenheim. Shakthar have lost a couple of players to Premier League clubs, but their experience in the competition is vital and I think they will just get through. Hoffenheim’s lack of familiarity with the Champions League will probably mean Lyon will end up in third ahead of them.
Order in seeding: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow & Viktoria Plzen
Qualify: Real Madrid & Roma
3rd and 4th: CSKA Moscow & Viktoria Plzen
This group should end up being the most straightforward of the lot. Real Madrid lost their best player Cristiano Ronaldo, but they easily still have enough to emerge from this group. Roma will accompany them, as both of them are just too robust for CSKA and Plzen. So this just leaves who will come out on top of group G? If Roma are to have any aspirations of causing the surprise and toppling Real, then they need to take advantage of the fact their first game is away to Real. If Roma could pick up the win, then there may be no stopping them. Unlike the other groups, both the teams I have tipped not to go through do have decent Champions league experience. It will be tense between them, but CSKA are the ones who will come third.
Order in seeding: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia & Young Boys
Qualify: Juventus & Manchester United
3rd and 4th: Valencia & Young Boys
Italian champions Juventus, now have the piece in Cristiano Ronaldo, which gives them a greater chance of going all the way this season. Getting out of this group will not be an issue for them. After their start to the season, not all is well at Manchester United, but given Jose Mourinho’s pedigree, they will still be strong in Europe and should be able to fend off Valencia. Valencia, will be third as they will be more clinical than Swiss champions Young Boys, who will need to take coming bottom of the group like grown men. What will be interesting at the top, is that Juventus and United visit each other in the middle matchdays (3 and 4), whoever takes the most points in those two games will qualify first and more than likely top the group at the end.
Written by Daniel Dwamena (@DubulDee)