Ladies and gentlemen, we are finally reunited with the best European soccer that this world has to offer — the UEFA Champions League is back starting this September with the Group Stage.
Now, without further ado, I present to you… the Group Stage of the 2013-2014 UEFA Champions League — with predictions right after:
Group A: Manchester United, Shaktar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Real Sociedad
United should definitely win this group while the race for second place is wide open. Shaktar lost a few key players recently, so their job will be a bit harder. Leverkusen are a disciplined team that can cause other teams problems while Sociedad defeated the likes of Lyon to get here, which means they are ready.
Group B: Real Madrid, Juventus, Galatasaray, Kobenhavn
This is the second toughest group of the bunch as Real Madrid and Juventus are clear favorites to advance while last season’s quarter-finalists, Galatasaray, will look to spoil the party. Kobenhavn are the heavy underdogs in this one, but anything is possible.
Another note on this group: Gala exited after the quarter-final stage at the feet of Real Madrid. This is a rematch that has arrived in almost perfect timing. The first match of the group will be in Istanbul between these two sides to kick-off this star-studded group.
Group C: Benfica, Parist Saint Germain, Olympiacos, Anderlecht
This group should end with either of the first two names on top with the bottom two having a fair fight for third. This will be a fun group to follow.
Group D: Bayern Munich, CSKA Moscow, Manchester City, Viktoria Plzen
Munich are clear favorites to win this group while second place should be earned and cemented by City, but CSKA will not make it easy by any means. Plzen will be a thorn in every side, but finishing higher than last is highly unlikely on paper.
Group E: Chelsea, Schalke 04, Basel, Steaua Bucharest
Chelsea should win this group with Schalke following them right out as second-place favorites. Basel and Steaua are both decent sides, but the former should finish in third.
Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli
This is the unquestionable Group of Death with each side capable of defeating the others. However, the weakest side of the four on paper is Marseille. This doesn’t mean that they cannot win the group or finish in second or third, but the strength of the other three is a bit too much. Arsenal may not win this group as Dortmund are better than ever, and Napoli are determined to make a name for themselves. This group is literally up for grabs.
Group G: Porto, Atletico Madrid, Zenit FC, Austria Wien
This group should be won by either of the top two sides with Zenit dropping to the Europa League. Austria Wien will finish in last.
Group H: Barcelona, Milan, Ajax, Celtic
Barcelona will win this group with Milan finishing right behind them. Third place will be a battle between Ajax and Celtic.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is going to be one of the best editions UEFA Champions League yet. We are all truly in for a special treat. Enjoy and stay tuned for plenty of coverage.