The 2014-15 UEFA Champions League Preview.

No point shitting about here might as well get straight into it. The draw happened, I’m going to rank each team within their respective pots and the post will be split into each group. Sounds difficult? I agree but imagine having to write it as well…

Group A

We have Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiacos and Malmo to start us off which ranks out as 5th, 2nd, 6th and 6th.

Atletico made the final last year only to finally succumb to Real in the dying minutes of normal time and see their dreams of a first Champions League slip away from them. As is often the case when one of the smaller money teams has success their team gets ripped apart the summer after and Atletico have suffered exactly that. Gone are major players like Courtois, Diego Costa and Filipe Luis and although players of the calibre of Griezmann and Mandzukic have come in it is hard to replace such major parts of the first team. I have no doubts Atletico will go through this group and will probably win it, beyond that it will be hard to say before seeing them play with their new team, although this is the same Atletico who lost their best player in Falcao and went on to win the league and almost win the Champions League.

Juventus will have been satisfied with the draw they received because they are almost guaranteed to go through, although I’m pretty sure I wrote that last year as well as they inexplicably went out in the groups. Juve have sort of looked like doing something for a few years now yet still haven’t shown up. They should make it through the groups here and you never know maybe this is the year they do something, although I doubt it.

Olympiacos will be happy with the draw because it gives them two big glamour games and a diddy team which they should be able to beat to the Europa League place. Olympiacos may cause a slight problem as they are so dominant in Greece that they will be able to rest their players but I doubt it and the best I see them doing is third.

It is nice to see Malmo make the Champions League but in reality they are just making up the numbers and have been drawn in a group which makes it unlikely that they will do anything in.

Group B

Real Madrid, Basel, Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad find themselves in Group B which ranks out as 2nd, 8th, 1st and 8th respectively.

Real Madrid are the defending champions and we all know that no team has ever defended the Champions League so history tells us that they won’t. Real have the team to be the first to defend but I seriously doubt it will happen because although they have spent a lot of money I don’t really see the team being that much better. Real will walk the group and will undoubtedly make it far in the tournament but I don’t see them winning it.

I’m shocked that Basel are a second seeded team and I doubt that they were happy with the draw. Yes they picked up Ludogorets who they are better than but they couldn’t have picked up a worse draw than Liverpool. The only way I see Basel making it through is if Liverpool’s lack of Champions League experience sees them be incredibly naïve, beyond that they’ll finish third.

They will have been dancing on the streets of Liverpool as the team named after the city picked up the perfect draw. I thought that Liverpool were going to really struggle to make it through the groups prior to the draw but after the draw was made they couldn’t have handpicked it better; the glamour tie against Real and then the two weakest teams available in the other two pots. I think Liverpool will probably finish second and probably won’t go much further than the last 16 but it will all be dependent on the draw.

Ludogorets are just happy to be in the group stage and they will be ecstatic at picking up two of the biggest sides in Europe as well, they’ll be lucky to get a point.

Group C

Group C is made up of Benfica, Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco which ranks at 7th, 6th, 2nd and 2nd respectively. Group C is what you call a bottom heavy group; you know one of those pear types, a Nicki Minaj if you like.

Benfica have a good team but are a weak first seed team, unluckily for them they managed to be drawn into a very competitive group as well. This group could go any of four ways but I think that Benfica are still the class of the group. I wonder if Benfica could do something in this year’s Champions League (and by do something I mean make semis), they have a good team and if the draw falls their way you never know.

Zenit aren’t great and are probably the worst team in the group. Zenit’s financial problems have held the team back in recent years but they still have a squad with big names in it and Russia is never a place which teams like to go.

Leverkusen will be glad that they drew such a good group, picking up two weak teams at the top and Monaco who they are better than. Leverkusen have a young squad but also have the experience of getting through the groups last season. What they will need to look out for though is the amount of naïve aw shucks performances which they put in last year because although they went through they did so in a fairly unconvincing fashion.

Monaco are reaping the benefits of having a loaded owner who pumps silly money into the team but they are also paying the cost for their over spending thanks to financial fair play. As a fourth pot team they are very difficult but in general I don’t rate Monaco and would be very surprised if they were to make it through the groups.

Group D

Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Galatasaray and Anderlecht make up group D which sits out as 6th, 3rd, 4th and 4th respectively. I don’t actually think there are many good groups this year but this is probably one of the better ones.

Regardless of how good Arsenal are they seem to always make it through the group stages. I’m pretty sure I have had them going out at the group stage the last three years yet each time they managed somehow to scrape through (sort of like they did in the playoffs). I expect them to get through again and I also expect them to come top of their group as Wenger has begun to add game winning quality to the squad and some of the young players are finally reaching their promise. I can’t see Arsenal winning the tournament and I think a successful year would be to get to the semis.

Dortmund’s great squad of a couple of years ago seems to be decimated every single year, with only a few of their best players now left. Despite that Dortmund still have a very good team and possibly more importantly for Klopp’s style a very young and hungry team. Dortmund don’t strike me as a team who could win the Bundesliga because Bayern are just too strong but they seem like a team which is built for cup competition. They will make it through the group here and could be a dark horse for the tournament as a whole, trust me when I say no team will want to face Dortmund over two legs with the energy and enthusiasm they possess.

Galatasaray is one of those places nobody like to go to and they tend to over achieve because of that. Sadly for the Turks they have been drawn in a group with two teams who are clearly better than them so it is highly unlikely they will get through, although they did in a similar situation last season. I imagine they will take the third spot.

Anderlecht have been drawn in to a bitch of a group, what they do get out of it is three pretty good ties against three fairly glamorous teams (or at very worst two), they don’t have a chance.

Group E

Group E is this year’s group of death and it sees Bayern Munich, Manchester City, CSKA Moscow and Roma meet up in a group which was almost identical to last years (Bayern, City, CSKA & Plzen). They sit at 1st, 1st, 8th and 1st. Now you can see why this is the group of death, there’s a lot of ones there.

Bayern are too good to go out at this stage regardless of who was drawn in their group. Bayern’s group could consist of a nuclear weapon, AIDS and Paris Hilton (three of the most dangerous things on the planet) and they would still walk through because they are that damn good. For me Bayern are this year’s Champions League winners; look at that squad it is unbelievable, it also basically just won the World Cup and then they’ve added Lewandowski and Benatia to it? Fuck me I wish I was a Bayern fan…

City have been in the Champions League four times and three out of four of those times they have received a right whore of a group. Personally I find this hilarious but I imagine the City fans (all five of them) will be quite upset. For me City are essentially fighting for second against Roma, they are a better team than Roma so therefore should go through. The only thing that gives me any doubt about this is that City have been in similar positions before and somehow managed to fuck it up, they are essentially great under achievers in Europe. Can they change the lack of upward motion? OF course they can, they have a very good squad who has been together for pretty much each of their European campaigns, it is about time they stepped up.

CSKA are easily the worst team in the group and have no chance of going through. All they will offer to the group is a tricky away tie to Russia which nobody will want to play in.

After so many years in the European wilderness Roma come back to a shocking draw…life isn’t fair is it Roma fans? Roma have a chance, they have a good although not spectacular team and will have to optimise their chances because it is likely to be a two horse race for second. Roma’s lack of experience in the tournament as well as the quality gap between their squad and the City squad has me putting them in third for the group, they do have a chance but only if City slip up.

Group F

Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Ajax and APOEL find themselves in Group F and sit 3rd, 4th, 5th and 3rd.

Barca will be more than pleased with this draw, they shouldn’t have any problems at all and will be able to give Zlatan (the over rated prick) a nice beating along the way. Barca are one of three teams who have a very good chance of winning the Champions League and they have strengthened considerably this summer. The defence is still a major concern for me about Barca but you can’t help but be aroused by the front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar. It is an incredible load of talent which looks even better when you check who is playing behind them in midfield before looking further back and realising that they have no defence (always disappointing when the body doesn’t match the face…). Barca have a chance this year but I see them coming up just short because for me they are just lacking too much defensively (one injury could be catastrophic).

PSG are that team who everyone seems to think will be a danger this year every single year, but the truth is they are pretty shit and are full of players who have built reputations for themselves on the back of nothing and are playing for pay cheques. They will make it through the groups and depending on the draw could make the quarters but I have my doubts they will go any further because they quite simply aren’t good enough.

Ajax always seem to get shit groups which never give them a chance of progressing to the next round. What makes it worse is that APOEL have a history of causing upsets and could steal their third place from them as well. It is sad but a great team like Ajax are a selling club now and getting to the group stages is really as good as it gets sadly, I hope they get third and can maybe do something in the Europa League.

APOEL have a tradition of over achieving and it wouldn’t shock me if they pull of some giant killing back in old Cyprus. I think they will probably finish bottom but will push Ajax hard for the Europa League spot.

Group G

Group G consists of Chelsea, Schalke, Sporting Lisbon and Maribor who sit at 4th, 5th, 7th and 7th, the typical Chelsea group.

Chelsea always seem to pick up really easy groups and this year is no different. They will walk this group with absolute ease; they are too good to do otherwise. Do they have a chance of winning the Champions League? Yeah they really do, they aren’t in the top three favourites but they are in that next rung of teams who have a chance. Mourinho seems to have decided he wants to transform Chelsea into Atletico Madrid with his summer signings and they were good ones too. Chelsea are that horrible defensive team which none of the attacking fluent teams (which is most of the top teams) will want to play. Nobody (other than Chelsea fans [EST 2004]) wants to see a team which plays Chelsea football win the Champions League, let’s hope they don’t.

Schalke aren’t a great team to be honest but they have been given a very favourable group. I don’t think that Sporting or Maribor are up to anything so Schalke almost progress by default, expect every team in the last 16 to want to see a tie against Schalke come out the bowl.

Sporting aren’t that bad a team, they just aren’t good enough to get out of the group. Yes they will have a chance because Schalke aren’t that great but in reality they will be playing Europa League football in 2015.

Maribor made it to the Champions League for the first time ever so good for them, they will be lucky to get a point though even with the piss easy group. They aren’t good enough for this level.

Group H

The final group is made up of Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Athletic Bilbao and BATE Borisov which ranks out at 8th, 7th, 3rd and 5th.

Porto always seem to be a first seed team despite the fact that they haven’t done anything in the Champions League for years (stupid coefficient that seems to think Europa League is as good as Champions League!). Porto also always seem to pick up incredibly favourable groups, they are the Greece of club football. I think Porto will scrape through once again in second place although I think that this group in general will be very tight and wouldn’t be shocked if they went out at the group stage.

Shakhtar are very unlucky, through no fault of their own they find themselves mired in a civil war which is being fought right on their doorstep. I can’t see games being played at the Donbass Arena which is a huge blow to them as they will either have to be played at a neutral ground and country or somewhere in Kiev (I imagine). It is because of that I can’t see Shakhtar going through to the next round, which is a shame really.

Bilbao will have been popping the champagne when they saw the draw come out because they almost couldn’t have picked it better. I think they will win the group fairly comfortably and it will give them a great chance to get comfortable in Champions League football, the perfect group.

BATE probably aren’t good enough to make it through, however they have been given a chance with an incredibly weak group. They will look at Porto and Shakhtar as two of the best teams they could’ve got from each pot and will look at Bilbao as a team with little experience and think they have a great chance here. BATE’s home form is all important and if they can get some wins they have every chance.

Going Through

Group A: Atletico & Juventus, Group B: Real & Liverpool, Group C: Benfica & Bayer, Group D: Arsenal & Dortmund, Group E: Bayern & City, Group F: Barca & PSG, Group G: Chelsea & Schalke and Group H: Bilbao & Porto.

Conclusion

Naturally there is no point making predictions on who I think will win the tournament because it is all dependent on how the draws go, however I think that three teams stick out and they are Barca, Real and Bayern (who are my pick just now). I also think that teams like Chelsea, City, Atletico and Dortmund could gain some momentum and challenge.

I don’t know what it is this year but I feel like this year’s Champions League seems to be lacking a little bit in quality. There is only one really good group where you are going to lose a last 16 calibre team because there are two other who are also of that level. As is often the case with the Champions League there are three groups which have a distinct lack of quality; Group C, G and H. It seems to happen all the time and they also always seem to include Portuguese teams…go figure…

This is an odd year for me as it is the first in my living memory which Manchester United will not be a part of, to make it even worse Celtic also didn’t make it (despite being let in twice). It is an odd situation as I don’t know naturally who to watch, although I almost certainly will watch the City games and then either Liverpool or Arsenal on the other night, never as fun wanting a team to lose as it is wanting your team to win though.

So leave a comment about what you thought about the Champions League draw and who you think may go on and win. You can of course find all the latest bm23reviews updates by joining the family on Facebook and Twitter, plus if you leave comments I am more than certain to reply even if they are just to tell me how terrible I am (I’m nice that way), so comment away!

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Author: bm23reviews

I watch TV and sports then write stuff.....that's about it.

4 thoughts on “The 2014-15 UEFA Champions League Preview.”

  1. I’m probably most interested in watching Group C. Arsenal, Dortmund, and Galatasaray playing against each other should be fun.
    Also I know you predicted City finally being able to get out of the group stage but how far can they realistically go in the Champions league this season?

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    1. I think Group C is one of the better groups although it is slim pickings. Dortmund Arsenal will hopefully be an attacking affair.

      City made it out of the groups last year but finished 2nd and then got dismantled by Barca in the last 16. I expect them to finish 2nd again and it will really depend on the draw because if it goes as I think they could draw Atletico, Real, Benfica, Barca or Bilbao. If they draw Real, Atletico or Barca then they’re almost certainly going out at the last 16, but if they draw the other two then they will make quarters and again it will depend on the draw because if they got lucky again then they could make semis. They won’t win it and they won’t make the final, I think it will be quarters this year because they can’t continually get unlucky draws and they are eventually going to hit a bit of luck.

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