The UEFA Champions League is back and off to a very interesting start after Tuesday’s results in groups A through D. Can the rest of the Champions League follow suit?
Let us take you through the final four groups, but don’t forget to look at what we see happening with the groups that went yesterday as well.
BATE Borisov – 1st place in 2014-15 Belrusian Premier League – Currently 1st in 2015-16 season
Barcelona – 1st place in 2014-15 Spanish La Liga – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Bayer Leverkusen – 4th place in 2014-15 German Bundesliga – Currently 13th in the 2015-16 season
AS Roma – 2nd place in 2014-15 Italian Serie A – Currently 5th in the 2015-16 season
Best player in the group – Lionel Messi/Barcelona
Come on, is this really a debate…okay, maybe it is a debate amongst the lineup that Barca will put out during Champions League play. However, I’m going to go with the multi-time winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or award as the World Player of the Year. Messi is off to another big time start in La Liga, notching a goal in three matches played. Simply put, he makes everyone better around him and is capable of spectacular moments at any point in time.
Most important matchup – Bayer Leverkusen vs. AS Roma
Sorry, BATE, but these two matchups in Group E are going to give us the runner up in this group. Leverkusen has gotten off to a horrific start in the Bundesliga, sitting at 13th on six points and having dropped back-to-back contests to Bayern Munich and Darmstad. Roma, well it is coming in hot after a pair of wins over Juventus and Frosinone in Serie A play. As long as these matches don’t end in ties, look for the winner to be the one that advances out of Group E alongside Barcelona.
X-factor – Travel
BATE is not any easy place to play, especially as the Belorussian winter approaches. That means the other three teams need to navigate its travels to Barysaw. Slipping up and not coming away with full points for all three travelers would be a disaster. It also doesn’t help that BATE is a very underrated side, capable of pulling an upset or two as well.
1st – Barcelona
2nd – AS Roma
3rd – Bayer Leverkusen
4th – BATE Borisov
Arsenal – 3rd place in 2014-15 English Premier League – Currently 4th in 2015-16 season
Bayern Munich – 1st place in 2014-15 German Bundesliga – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Dinamo Zagreb – 1st place in 2014-15 Prva HNL – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Olympiakos – 1st place in 2014-15 Greek Super League – Currently 1st in the 2015-16 season
Best player in the group – Thomas Müller/Bayern Munich
This group is loaded with some really good individual talent, in fact there’s an argument for at least one player on every team to get this honor. However, there isn’t a player more in form and with more skill to burn than Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller. He’s been on fire in Bundesliga play, netting six goals in four games played. That total is tied for the total for the entire rest of the Bayern Munich squad combined. He’s been playing out of his mind and at the top of his game, Müller is so difficult to keep off the scoreboard. Combining a ton of skill with a lot of size and precession is a deadly combination.
Most important matchup – Bayern Munich’s attack vs. Petr Cech
Neither of Bayern Munich or Petr Cech are strangers to the pressures and successes of Champions League soccer. However, going head-to-head in this group means one of the former best goalkeepers in the world goes up against arguably the second-best attack in the world (you know, because…Barcelona). With two matches between Arsenal and Bayern Munich
X-factor — Greek Politics
Olympiakos is such an interesting side to factor in to this group. Let’s just say it is a bright shining star amidst a sea of crap happening around them in the country. The politics of Greece and its economic situation could have a profound impact on the Greek Super League and its teams. It’s hard to imagine that if things go to hell (even more than they already have), that it doesn’t affect the players and the club of Olympiakos in a profound way.
1st – Bayern Munich
2nd – Arsenal
3rd – Dinamo Zagreb
4th – Olympiakos