UEFA Champions League Preview: Group A

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 A.

Group A is a group that shouldn’t have too many surprises. That’s not to say this group isn’t good, but the top two should far and away comfortably make it into the group stage. La Liga champions and Champions League runners up, Atletico Madrid and Serie A champions, Juventus, headline group A which also includes Greek champions, Olympiacos and Swedish champs, Malmo FF. Malmo FF qualified into the group stage via the 2nd qualifying round.

Group A Teams and Country (Position in UEFA Coefficient/Position in UEFA Coefficient Compared to Just Last Season):

Atletico Madrid/Spain (No. 7/No. 2)
Juventus/Italy (No. 22/No. 11)
Olympiacos/Greece (No. 27/No. 16)
Malmo FF/Sweden (No. 137/No. 167)

Player to Watch in Group A: Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)

Andrea Pirlo is timeless. The man is 35 years old and has won virtually every championship he has competed in. Even though Pirlo doesn’t seem to have lost a step, he is eventually going to retire and I’m sure he would love to do all he could to be on top one more time in his storied career.

X-Factor in Group A: Malmo FF

Malmo is going to finish 4th in the group. As much as we love an underdog, it’s just not going to happen for Malmo. The thing for Malmo is that they can play the role of spoiler for the other three teams. Steal a point at home and it can disrupt any of the three teams aspirations of the Champions League knockout stage.

Percentage of Advancing out of Group Stage (According to ESPN’s SPI Index)

Atletico Madrid: 83.9%
Juventus: 67.7%
Olympiacos: 42.7%
Malmo FF: 5.7%

Most Important Game: Juventus vs. Atletico Madrid, Matchday 6, December 9

This is the last game of the group stage and it’s pitting against the top two teams in the group. This game could easily be a game where the winner will take the top of the group and that’s important because the group winners won’t play each other and will be drawn against one of the group runner up finishers. So theoretically, it would be an easier round of 16 match if you win the group.

Teams to Move On: Atletico Madrid and Juventus
Team to Move On To Europa League: Olympiacos

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @phillipbupp