Every day, we at 32 Flags will preview each group in the UEFA Champions League as we build up to the first group stage games of the competition. Today, we are previewing Group E.
If you’re wondering why they call this competition the Champions League, then look no further than Group E for that definition. This group features the English, German and Russian champions from last season and could easily be considered the “group of death” because of it. With Manchester City, Bayern Munich and CSKA Moscow representing league champions, Roma got thrown in as one of the better clubs not to win a league title. Good luck predicting this group, especially considering the lack of European pedigree with everyone not named Bayern Munich.
Group E Teams and Country (Position in UEFA Coefficient/Position in UEFA Coefficient Compared to Just Last Season):
Bayern Munich/Germany (No. 3/No. 3)
CSKA Moscow/Russia (No. 31/No. 28)
Manchester City/England (No. 16/No. 22)
AS Roma/Italy (No. 55/No. 55)
Player to Watch in Group B: Matija Nastasić, Manchester City
In a group full of amazing attacking players, defense will be at a premium and one of the brightest stars in the back is the 21-year-old Serbian international Matija Nastasić. He hasn’t gotten off to a great start since being bought by Manchester City, but Nastasić will be very important to the squad because of the financial fair play issues going on. Being just 21, Nastasić won’t count against the 21-player roster limit, but you better believe he’s in the plans for Man City.
X-Factor in Group B: Winter in Moscow
Traveling to Russia isn’t anything new in the Champions League, but all three of the opponents the weather is going to be a real challenge. Manchester City (Nov. 5) and Bayern Munich (Dec. 10) are the two front-runners of the group, but both get to visit Moscow when the weather turns from crappy to downright horrible. It’s the equalizer for the CSKA, and if either of them slip up and don’t get full points it could cost them dearly. Look for the weather conditions in Moscow to play a huge roll in how this group plays out.
Percentage of Advancing out of Group Stage (According to ESPN’s SPI Index)
Bayern Munich: 90.5%
Manchester City: 72.5%
AS Roma: 26.4%
CSKA Moscow: 10.6%
Most Important Game: Manchester City at AS Roma, Matchday 2, Sept. 30
While most see this group as Bayern Munich, Manchester City and then everyone else, that’s really not the case. Roma finished second behind Juventus in Serie A last season and spent some good money during the summer transfer window. Additionally, for all the dominance that the blue half of Manchester has had in the English Premier League, it hasn’t turned in to production in the Champions League. It took three tries for Man City to get out of the Group Stages, and then they ran in to Barcelona in the round of 16 last year. If City want to get out of the group stage or Roma want to play spoiler, winning this match in Rome will be vital to the cause. A loss for either side means they’re likely to need some serious help from others.
Teams to Move On: Bayern Munich and Manchester City
Team to Move On To Europa League: AS Roma