UEFA Champions League Preview: Group D

Photo: Getty Images

Group D is arguably the most stacked group in the Champions League containing Barcelona, Juventus, Sporting CP, and Olympiakos.

Olympiakos

After their six-time streak of qualifying for the Champions League came to an end last season, Olympiakos has qualified again by winning the Greece league. During the transfer window, they did lose their best center back Panagiotis Retsos to  Bayer Leverkusen, but Olympiakos managed to improve their team after making some very good signings.

During their Champions League playoffs matches, they won most of their matches with ease, mainly due to their stout defense. Throughout their qualifying games, they conceded 4 goals while scoring 7 goals. During the Greece league, they have yet concede in two games so far.

Olympiakos have a lot of Champions League experience under their belt, but every time they fail to qualify for the round of 16 and end up in the Europa League. With a new and improved team, we will see if this can change this year.

https://mobile.twitter.com/olympiacos_org/status/901553213467504640

Player To Watch: Bjorn Engels

The center back from Club Brugge who recently transferred to Olympiakos has been by far their best defender. He brings a very aggressive playing style to the table. It will be interesting to see how he will match up against world class players.

Sporting CP

Sporting CP finished third in the Portuguese league but managed to qualify for the Champions League through playoffs. During the transfer market, Sporting sold Ruben Semedo, their best defender, but managed to snag both Mathieu and Pinto on free transfers along with Marcos Anunca.

In all competition so far, Sporting CP have let in 2 goals while scoring an astonishing 15 goals in 6 games. They have won most matches by ease highlighted by two 4+ goals wins. As of now, Sporting are currently sitting atop of the Primeria League having scored the most goals and having the top goal differential.

When it comes to the champions league it is a completely different story. They are not very successful in the Champions League and throughout the history of their club in the competition have let in close to 150 goals and scored a little over 110. They have made a name for themselves in the Europa League, and look to do so in the Champions League.

Player to Watch: Bas Dost

Last season in the Primeira Liga he averaged over one goal a game, but it was a different story in the Champions League. Now with a better supporting cast, he looks to build on a successful start to the season.

https://mobile.twitter.com/LeoMozambique/status/900509756317630467

Juventus 

After a very disappointing defeat in the finals at the hands of Real Madrid, Juventus are once again back in the Champions League by winning Serie A. During the transfer window they most notably sold, Kingsley Coman and Leonardo Bonucci. They ended up buying a plethora of players which include Blaise Matiudi, Douglas Costa (loan), Benedikt Howedes (loan), Federico Bernardeschi and Juan Cuadrado and Medhi Benatia on permenant deals.

Juve are currently in first place in Serie A scoring 7 goals while conceding just 2, showing that the loss of Bonnuci has not affected them. After starting off the year with a defeat at the hands of Lazio, Juventus have cruised in their past two games winning each by 2+ goals.

This team is overall a complete team which is solid at every position. The attack is top tier and has a great supporting cast in the midfield followed by a very solid defense. Buffon, as always, is solid in goal. I would not be surprised if this team makes another finals run.

Player to Watch: Paulo Dybala

Dybala has had a very good start to the season scoring 4 goals in just two matches. Last year, he tore up Barcelona and Juventus have played them in the Group Stage. Dybala is a key part in this team and looks to ride his recent momentum into the tournament.

FC Barcelona

Woah, was it one roller coaster ride for Barcelona last season in the Champions League. Coming back from being down 4-0 on aggregate only to get knocked off in the next round by Juventus. Ouch, That has to hurt! Over the summer they lost Brazilian star Neymar to PSG for around €200M, but with that money signed Nelson Semedo, Paulinho and Ousmane Dembele.

After starting the season off with losing to Real Madrid in the Spainish Super Cup, Barca is currently tied for first in La Liga. So far they have scored 4 goals and conceded 0 showing yet again that losing a top tier player, does not affect them.

This team got exposed against Madrid letting in 5 goals in 2 games, but during La Liga, they have fixed the holes in the defense. Dembele is a very solid player but has yet to make his debut yet. They fixed their hole at right back by signing Semedo. Overall this team is very solid, but we will have to see if the loss of Neymar affects them.

https://mobile.twitter.com/FCBarcelona/status/904045537799929856

Player to Watch: Lionel Messi

The sole reason I chose Messi was that he is, of course, Messi, but also because he has not scored against Buffon yet. Messi has no problem scoring in the Champions Leaguebut has problems when it comes to scoring against the Italian goalkeeper. Now without Neymar, Messi will get more chances.

Projected Standings

  1. Juventus
  2. Barcelona
  3. Sporting CP (Europa League)
  4. Olympiakos

 

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