Hey All, I can't believe that it is almost time for the Champions League this season to kick off. I cannot wait, as I think its going to be extremely exciting this year. Who else is looking forward to it? So the UCL starts in a few days, and I think its time to make group stage predictions! Here are my predictions for the Group Stage: Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Basel, and Ludogorets Razgrad This group is gonna be more open than many people think. Arsenal has some really good players, but they are Arsenal after all, and usually find a way to flop somehow. PSG is really in decline. The departure of Ibrahimovic and David Luiz has really weakened them. Verratti is by far their best player now. Matuidi can be good on his day, while Rabiot has potential. So to be honest PSG's strength will come from their midfield, however Motta is aging, and sometimes struggles to keep up with the pace of the game. Di Maria is a threat as well, but Cavani is not really that good. Basel is a team that cannot be underestimated either. They seem to be good in Europe especially against EPL teams. To be honest with you I am really having trouble picking the two teams that will go through. As I said before PSG now is a team that is a few steps above average, that saying though they are still the best team on paper in this group, and with Arsenal inconsistent, I think PSG will top this group, however not nearly as comfortably as a lot of people predict. Now second place Basel and Arsenal will be fighting for, and I am having an extremely hard time picking one. Basel always seem to get the better out of EPL teams in Europe, but at the same time Arsenal always seems to scrape through and advance, and with PSG not the team they were the past 3 seasons, one if not both I can see taking points from them especially Arsenal. So here is what I will say: Basel will give Arsenal two tough games, and will probably win at least one of them, but Arsenal will somehow scrape through to the second round, probably by taking some points from PSG, and also getting full points against Ludogorets Razgrad, which is something I am not sure Basel will do successfully. Especially since PSG already don't have a great record in England, and their new manager Emery has a strong home record, but his away record can be very questionable. So Arsenal second, and Basel to the Europa League. 1. Paris Saint Germain, 2. Arsenal, 3. Basel Group B: Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kyiv, and Besiktas This is also a group that can really go any way. Benfica performed well last season, but Renato Sanches, and Gaitan, their two best midfielders have left. Jonas is aging as well, so they will not be as good as they were last season. Dynamo Kyiv has a really good defense, but they can struggle A LOT in front of goal, and every time I watch them in europe, Yarmolenko always seems to have nightmares trying to communicate with his teammates, especially fast enough to make use of counterattacks. The history between Portuguese teams and Ukrainian teams is quite an interesting story actually, because they seem to have developed a rivalry within the past seasons. Ukrainian teams often fair well against Portuguese teams, so I honestly don't know for sure. Napoli is probably the best team in this group, especially with their new players they signed this season. Despite losing Higuain, Milik is such an underrated player and gets overlooked a lot. I think Milik has a lot of potential and his shooting is really spot on. He will become a really good player in years to come. Their defense and midfield was also reinforced well with Tonelli, Rog, and Giacherinni. So I think Napoli is gonna win this group. Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv will fight for second, but the fact that DK cannot score goals for their lives, will really cost them big, and they might even struggle against Besiktas. So I will say Napoli to win this group, with Benfica coming in second after a hard fought battle, and Dynamo Kyiv just making it to the Europa League. I will say though that this group will have a lack of goals scored. 1. Napoli, 2. Benfica, 3. Dynamo Kyiv Group C: Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Celtic This will be a really fun group to watch, and is one of the groups of death. Pep Guardiola and Bravo will be returning to Camp Nou to play against their old clubs. Pep has had a great start to coaching Manchester City with winning all his games so far, but at the same time he hasn't really been challenged yet. No matter how good the other teams try, I am convinced that Barcelona is the best team in this group, and is a few miles above the rest. Of course with the MSN in attack, and a solid midfield and defense, Barcelona will win this group. Now the huge question is whether Manchester City or Borussia Monchengladbach will take second place. Man City has really improved over the past years with their new signings. Gundogan and De Bruyne will be very key to the team. Also Pep has added consistency to the team. However Monchengladbach is managed really well as a team, and their manager has a great history of out-coaching Pep when he was at Bayern Munich. As good as Pep's City is, they don't have even close to depth of quality Pep had when he was in charge of Bayern. At the same time though UCL can be a different story, as most teams are at their best when it comes to the UCL. The other thing is Schubert the manager of Monchengladbach might even be able to snatch a point from Barcelona in one of the games, especially since Barcelona will likely already have the group wrapped up by the second time they meet which will be their very last game in the group stage. Many people say its easy for Barcelona and Man City, but Monchengladbach's record vs Pep is not something to be overlooked, and since Barcelona and City play very similar style, it would not be a surprise to see Schubert snatch at least one point from his two games against Barca. With that saying though, I do think the UCL is a slightly different story, and while I predict Monchengladbach to beat or draw City in Germany, I do think Man City might be a little too much for them to handle, so I'll go with everyone else after all. Barcelona first, Man City second, and Monchengladbach third, but I would not be shocked at all if Monchengladbach sends City to the Europa League. Celtic got a nightmare draw and is probably just here to have fun and experience playing in the UCL. I honestly don't see them getting any points from this group. 1. Barcelona, 2. Manchester City, 3. Borussia Monchengladbach Group D: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, PSV Eindhoven, and Rostov So before I start, I just want to say that Rostov has a lack of experience in Europe, and honestly strike me as a team that will just throw it all away and won't take any points, especially in this group. Sorry Rostov, but they are just not good enough, and it was a fluke on how they even made it here in the first place. Anyway, this is the other group of death, and watching Bayern vs Atletico in the group stage will be so entertaining. So Atletico did knockout Bayern last season in the semifinals, but many people seem to forget that it was only because of the away goal rule, and technically it was a draw. However Bayern are under Ancelotti now, and Ancelotti has a fairly good record against Diego Simeone in EUROPE. Atletico are made to beat teams that hold possession and play tiki taka, which is clearly something a team coached by Ancelotti would never do. Ancelotti is a defensive/high pressing manager. Because Bayern are clearly the better team ON PAPER, I expect Bayern to be pressing Atletico quite a bit higher up the field than Atletico will be pressing Bayern. Atletico can still be very dangerous with counterattacks and set pieces, but I think Bayern will perform better under Ancelotti especially with their improved defense after signing Hummels. The other thing is Atletico Madrid are not that good in the group stage, they usually perk up by the quarterfinals. PSV is also a very defensive team, and last season Atletico and PSV were able to both shut each other down, which resulted in 0 goals being scored. I expect a similar type of game between them this season, and Atletico will NOT take full 6 points against PSV, but Bayern will. Bayern are too strong in attack for PSV to defend successfully like that. So Bayern Munich will win this group, pushing Atletico Madrid down to second, and PSV will make the Europa League. 1. Bayern Munich, 2. Atletico Madrid, 3. PSV Eindhoven Group E: CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham Hotspur, and Monaco This group is kind of similar to Group B and can be very open. We honestly cannot predict for sure what will happen in this group. I honestly think that Leverkusen is the best team on paper in this group, but they always seem to struggle against defensive teams, and I expect Monaco to cause them huge problems. Spurs is not as good as they were last season, and usually one english team at least fails to make the knockouts. So with Monaco having a really good season so far and seeming to have a solid defense, I think they will win the group. Bayer Leverkusen will completely outplay Spurs with their high pressing and skilled players, so they will come in second sending Tottenham to Europa League. CSKA Moscow is not a good team, and will have an embarrassing UCL just like the past two seasons. So just like two seasons ago, Monaco and Leverkusen will advance. 1. Monaco, 2. Bayer Leverkusen, 3. Tottenham Hotspur Group F: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting CP, and Legia Warsaw Now this group is so obvious and straight forward, do we even have to play the games? Real Madrid is the best team in this group, and is pretty much the same as last season under Zidane. They will win this group. Dortmund might take a few points off of them in one game, but they are too much for anyone in this group to really handle. Dortmund is not a huge threat as they sold key players: Hummels, Gundogan, and Mkhitaryan, but despite that they have signed some good players as well, and will advance as the second placed team in this group. Sporting CP will go to Europa League as usual, and Legia Warsaw is just here for the fun and experience of playing in Europe. They might actually take some points off of Sporting, but not enough to go to Europa League. This group doesn't need anymore explanation, as its pretty obvious. 1. Real Madrid, 2. Borussia Dortmund, 3. Sporting CP Group G: Leicester City, Porto, Club Brugge, and Copenhagen What a dream draw for all the teams in this group. If any of these teams are your team, then you are extremely lucky. All of these teams are mediocre at best, and will very likely not even go past the Round of 16, unless Porto gets an easy draw next round. Leicester City, oh the joys of being in Pot 1, is extremely luck to end up with an easy group that is very possible to get out of. Porto as well is an average team, and to end up in an easy group like this is probably a dream for them. Club Brugge also might surprise a few people. Ok, so I think Porto and Leicester City are the better teams in this group and are definitely a little superior to Club Brugge, and Copenhagen. I think Porto will win this group, because they seem to have the most UCL experience out of all of them, and while they don't have the quality to match many other teams in this tournament, they have more than enough quality to win this group. Leicester is very inexperienced but Ranieri is a good manager, and will probably be able to do enough to reach the Round of 16 coming through in second place. Copenhagen I don't think is a threat at all and might be the weakest team in the whole tournament. Club Brugge will probably go to Europa League, but I wouldn't be surprised if they upset Leicester due to lack of experience and advanced through second place. 1. Porto, 2. Leicester City, 3. Club Brugge Group H: Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon, and Dinamo Zagreb I am quite excited to see this group, probably because Juventus is my team. So anyway I think Juventus is miles above the rest of these teams, and they made some great signings this summer including Alves, Pjanic, Benatia, Pjaca, Higuain, and a few others. Despite Pogba being gone, he wasn't as key as many people outside these forums say he was. Juventus now have a full squad and some world class players/future world class players on the bench, and I think they are too much for anyone else in this group to handle. Juventus will win this comfortably but knowing my team, they will drop points in at least one game, maybe in their last game, or against Sevilla away. Sevilla despite losing their previous manager are still a good team with some promising players, and they are lucky to really only have Juventus to worry about. Sevilla will get second place. Now Lyon is not that good of a team, and if this was last season I would actually say Dinamo Zagreb would come in third pushing Lyon to last place, but they last some huge key players including Pjaca to Juventus, and Rog to Napoli. Actually Pjaca returning to his old club will be an interesting thing to see. Anyway though I think Lyon will scrape third place, and Dinamo Zagreb just don't have enough quality now, although they might reach the Europa League if they are lucky. 1. Juventus, 2. Sevilla, 3. Lyon So these are my UCL predictions. I can't wait to watch some of these games. What are all of your predictions? Is there anything you disagree with me about? I am curious to see what you all think?