The UEFA Champions League groups were drawn last week as teams are set to see action as early as September 12th. Bayern Munich, PSG, Celtic and Anderlecht were the four teams drawn into Group B. Today, I will give my projected standings along with a preview of each tea
After a disappointing defeat last season in the quarterfinals at the hands of European foes Real Madrid, Bayern Munich look to bounce back with yet another strong showing in the champions league. During the summer transfer window, they signed Colombian star James Rodriguez on loan from Real Madrid, french midfielder Corentin Tolisso, Hoffenhiam duo Sebastian Rudy and Niklas Sule, and Serge Gnarby.
The biggest strength of this Bayern Munich team is their depth in the midfield.They signed four midfielders this summer to solidify the midfield position. They already have a very strong midfield with Arturo Vidal, Thiago, Robben, Ribery and now they have added James Rodriguez and Corentin Tolisso most notably. Their midfield is going to be scary and even if one of the starters is benched, teams still need to be worried as they have world class talent coming off the bench.
There is not really any big noticeable weaknesses on this Bayern team, but one thing they need to improve on is taking their chances. Last year, Vidal had a chance to put the dagger in Madrid, but skied the penalty and later on Madrid won the game 2-1. If they take their chances whether from the spot, free kick or a 1 on 1, the conversion rate has to be amazing.
Projected Starting Lineup: 4-4-1-1
Projected Leader in Stats
Goal Scorer: Lewandowski- 10 goals
Robert Lewandowski at Bayern:
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 29, 2017
Lewandowski is a goal scoring machine. Last year he was third in the champions league with 8 goals. This year with more weapons, I expect him to get more chances and slot them away.
Leading Assister: James Rodriguez- 5 assists
Rodriguez is a very good player. He can play in quality crosses and set up teammates with great opportunities to score. With goal scorers all around him and with more playing time, I expect him to lead Bayern in assists.
Its safe to say Bayern Munich will have a successful champions league campaign. The big question is if they can get over the last hump and beat teams their caliber like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Juventus to get to the finals.
Paris Saint Germain
Paris Saint Germain suffered one of the biggest breakdowns in Champions League history. PSG had a great chance to go through to the quarterfinals with a 4-0 aggregate lead on Barcelona heading in the 2nd leg, but they blew it. Now after a transfer window which saw PSG break the bank for Neymar and getting Dani Alves on a free, this team looks reformed and ready to have another successful run in the champions league.
The attack of PSG is a huge strength. They have shown that they can score numerous amounts of goals against top teams. They have strengthened up front by adding Neymar to a already solid attack with Cavani, Di Maria. Do not be surprised if this is the best attack in Europe.
This teams biggest weakness is their mentality. We saw them have a huge breakdown last year against Barcelona in the round of 16. If they can keep their composure, they should have no problem winning games and not blowing leads.
Projected Starting Lineup: 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Kevin Trapp
Defense: Layvin Kurzawa, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, and Dani Alves
Center Midfielders: Marco Verrati, Thiago Motta, and Javier Pastore
Forwards: Angel Di Maria, Edison Cavani, and Neymar
Goal Scorer: Neymar- 8 goals
If Neymar did not put up these numbers, PSG would get hammered. Neymar has impressed in his first couple of games in Ligue 1 scoring great goals. Neymar sets himself up for success when he has the ball and creates great opportunities for him in front of the goal.
Assists: Neymar- 6 assists
Neymar sets his teammates up for success. He makes the right decisions whether it is to pass or shoot, and plays great quality crosses. I expect his assists to drop of just a little bit due to the fact he is playing with players that are not as good as his teammates with he was at Barcelona.
PSG on paper are a very complete team. Much like Bayern Munich, they just have to get over the hump and beat the great teams. Anything less then a quarterfinals appearance would be disappointing.
Brendan Rodgers’s managed Celtic to win and go undefeated in the Scottish Premiership by over 30 points but when it came to the Champions League, they were terrible. Due to a lack of competition from their own league, they got exposed by the best teams in Europe highlighted by a 7-0 loss to Barcelona. Celtic looks to build of a semi successful Champions League campaign which yielded three draws.
The biggest strength for this Celtic team are their forwards. This strong core of strikers is led by one of the best young strikers and goalscorer, Moussa Dembele, along with Leigh Griffiths. This is a very strong forward core with great goalscorer starting along with some great depth.
The biggest weakness for this team is their defense. The defense was atrocious last year giving up 16 goals during the group stage. This defense is particularly atrocious away from home giving up 9 of their 16 goals at away games. This still remains a weakness after Celtic did not sign any defenders this transfer window.
Projected Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon
Defenders: Mikael Lustig, Derrick Boyata, Erik Sviatchenko, and Kieran Tierney
Defensive Midfielders:Nir Briton and Scott Brown
Midfielders: James Forrest, Stuart Armstrong, and Scott Sinclair
Forward: Moussa Dembele
Projected Leader in Stats
Goal Scorer: Moussa Dembele- 3 goals
Dembele is the go-to-guy on Celtic for goal scoring opportunities. Dembele has a very accurate shot and is a great crosser.
Assists- Scott Sinclair- 2 assists
Sinclair plays the attacking mid position behind Dembele. Sinclair has great passing accuracy and is great at creating chances.
Celtic is overall a good team. They have too many holes in their team to be a great team, but they have some young talent that will help them in the future. Due to a lack of European competition though, Celtic will not go through.
Anderlecht won the Belgian Premier League and now look to advance their recent success to the Champions League. Last time Anderlecht advanced past the group stage was back in 2001.
Anderlecht’s attack is their biggest strength. Their defense and midfielders get into the attack and score most of the teams goal. When Anderlecht are on the attack, be on the watch because this team attacks with pace and force.
The biggest weakness for this team is the lack of production from their forwards. Minus Lukasz Teodorczyk’s 30 goals last season, Idrissa Sylla was the 2nd highest goal scorer as a forward scoring a measely 3 goals. This has to change as they go forward because they will play teams where the defenders can’t go into the attack, so they will need more production up front.
Projected Starting Lineup: 4-3-3
Goalkeeper: Matz Sels
Defenders: Dennis Apiah, Uros Spajic, Kara Mboji and Ivan Obradovic
Midfielders: Sven Kums, Leander Dendonker, and Adrien Trebel
Forwards: Alexandru Chipiu, Lukasz Teodorczyk, and Sofiane Hanni
Projected Leader in Stats
Goal Scorer: Uros Spajic- 2 goals
Like I said, defenders score most of the goals for this team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did it in the Champions League. Spajic sits central in the field so he can make great runs into the box or can get it and shoot from a while out.
Assists: Dennis Apiah- 2 assists
Since the midfielders play more compact in the middle, I expect the backs to get up and around the wingers. Apish is especially good at this since he is fast and recognizes it quickly. When he overlaps the winger he can get a cross in or set up a teammate for a touch and hit.
- Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich and PSG are the powerhouses of this group so I expect them to stomp on Celtic and Anderlecht and coast to either the 1 or 2 spot in this group. Celtic and Anderlecht will most likely be fighting for a spot in the Europa League. Celtic beats out Anderlecht due to Celtic winning on goal differential. All in all, this should be a fun group to watch.