Hurrah - The Champions League is back!!
It seems a lot longer than 101 days ago that Real Madrid lifted the Champions League.
Now on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings we will be treated to the cream of European football.
England have 5 teams entered with Man Utd gaining access via winning the Europa League.
They look to have a winnable group. Group A which includes Basel, CSKA Moscow and Benfica. They should all be accounted for at Old Trafford and you would imagine that they would avoid defeat away in Europe as this is a Mourinho masterclass.
Scottish Champions and London teams handed “Groups of Death” ?
Glasgow Celtic have been handed a huge task in Group B. They have to overcome the mighty Germans Bayern Munich.
If they manage to take points off them then there is the small task of French giants Paris St Germain with Neymar et al to face! The Belgians Anderlecht make up the group and I think that Celtic will be looking to beat them to 3rd place to secure a place in the Europa league as their best option for being in Europe in 2018.
Chelsea have also been handed a tough looking group. Group C consists of Roma, Atletico Madrid and FK Qarabag.
They were seeded in Pot 1 and can count themselves extremely unlucky to have pulled out Roma and Atletico Madrid.
With Diego Costa omitted from their squad the onus for goals is even more on Alvaro Morata to continue his good to start to his Chelsea career.
However there a lot of unknown names in Chelsea’s European squad. Should they encounter injuries this group could come down to head to head and even goal difference I think.
Spurs have also landed a tough group. They are in Group H alongside the current holders Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia. They also have the issue of playing all their “home” games at Wembley to contend with. Real Madrid should win this group and the pivotal fixture in this group could well be the opening fixture for Spurs. This sees them entertain Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. A win gets them off to a flyer and gets the monkey off their back about being unable to win at Wembley.
Safe negotiation to last 16?
Liverpool have in my eyes the easiest Champions League group to qualify from. Group E consists of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and NK Maribor. The Pot 1 team of Spartak Moscow are probably not even 1st or 2nd favourites in this group and for me this is a straight shoot out between Sevilla and Liverpool.
European nights at Anfield are still special. Now that Jurgen Klopp has his team playing the high pressing high energy game that he is renowned for. There is still a question mark over their frailty in defence though and this will certainly be exposed once they come up against the higher quality European teams.
Manchester City will be glad to encounter a Champions League group without a supposed Big Gun. Like Liverpool the Pot 1 team in Group F Shaktar Donetsk may find themselves struggling to qualify. Napoli and Feyenoord make up the group.
Man City should ease through this group. Though the away trips to Napoli and Donetsk will not be plain sailing, I still expect them to pick up wins.
Tip of the Day
My tip of the Day may be a slow burner. I am tipping MANCHESTER UNITED to be the furthest progressing Premier League team.
This is available at 9/4 with most bookmakers.